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U.S. fencers Race Imboden, Gerek Meinhardt and Nick Itkin won the men’s foil team gold medal match at the Pan American Games in Lima on Friday, defeating Brazil in a dominant performance. They beat Argentina and Colombia in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, earlier in the day to advance to the final match.

On the podium while the U.S. national anthem played, Imboden, a 26-year-old two-time Olympian from Brooklyn, took a knee.

As he later explained on Twitter, he was proud to represent Team USA at the Games, but he wanted to use that moment to protest racism, the “mistreatment of immigrants” and President Donald Trump, “who spreads hate”, and encourage gun control. While he’s certainly not the first athlete to take a knee during the national anthem, he encouraged others to do the same.

Imboden’s protest follows three major mass shootings in the U.S. during the last couple weeks.

Three people were killed and more than a dozen were injured during a shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, 22 people were killed at an El Paso Walmart — the gunman has since confessed and admitted to targeting Mexicans — and 10 people were killed and dozens injured in a shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

And Wednesday, agents from Homeland Security Investigations arrested 680 undocumented immigrants in six cities in Mississippi as the Trump administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement continue raids around the country.

Several athletes have protested racial injustice during national anthems in recent years, notably currently unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick and USWNT’s Megan Rapinoe, who has repeatedly explained her support for Kaepernick and opposition to the president.

Tuesday at the Pan-Am Games, Imboden won a bronze medal in the men’s individual foil, while his teammate, Meinhardt, won the gold. The two were also part of the group that won Team USA’s first world championship in the team competition in July.

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August 10, 2019 at 02:17PM