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Back in 2016, Orton criticized Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem, believing it to be a disrespectful gesture. The former world champion explained to CBSSports.com’s Brent Brookhouse that he has since gained a new perspective:
“It took me a little time, but what I had to do was realize, Kaepernick, he wasn’t sh–ting on the flag. He wasn’t disrespecting the people that have given their lives for our freedom. He was taking a stand against police brutality. […]
“I’m embarrassed to say it, but it took me a little while but I get it. What I said on Twitter, I stand behind. If anyone doesn’t agree with me, I think they need to do more digging. Go look at Big E’s Twitter from a week ago, go look at Xavier Woods’ Twitter, go look at things Kofi said, that Mark Henry said, that Shelton said, that R-Truth said. If you read what they’re saying and try to put yourself in their shoes for even just a minute, you’re going to see right now that it’s not fair. All lives do matter, but like I said on Twitter, until black lives matter, all lives can’t matter. My only regret is that it took me a little bit and some soul searching to see that.”
Wrestling fans noticed a change in Orton’s tone last month.
The killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd led many Americans to protest and march in cities across the country to demand meaningful legislation and reforms to address police brutality and racism.
Four former Minneapolis police officers have been charged in connection with Floyd’s killing after a video showed officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes prior to his death.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers face a charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
A few WWE stars have recently made reference to the ongoing demonstrations and showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Keith Lee wore the BLM slogan on his jacket and trunks for his match against Johnny Gargano at NXT TakeOver: In Your House on June 7.
As they entered the ring on last Friday’s edition of SmackDown, Kofi Kingston and Big E also took a knee and raised their right fists in the air.
WWE issued a statement June 2 saying it “supports an inclusive society and condemns racial injustice.”