Politics Elections
10172017_Colin_Kaepernick_Anthem_AP Marcio Jose Sanchez, File/AP

San Francisco 49ers then-quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneels during the national anthem before a game against the New England Patriots in Santa Clara, Calif., on Nov. 20, 2016. He started the movement to kneel or otherwise protest during the anthem over his view of police mistreatment of black males.

November 07, 2017

Pennsylvania Democrats angry over Republican flyer on national anthem protests

Pennsylvania Democrats are upset about "unethical" flyers from Republicans calling on voters to make decisions about their choices for state judges in Tuesday's election based on the national anthem protests in professional sports.

The flyer, according to Fox43, says: "Vote For Judges Who Share Our Values And Stand For The Flag. Vote Republican On Tuesday, November 7th."

In a statement, Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Marcel Groen called the political advertisement "beyond the pale."

"They’ve truly stooped to a new low," Groen said. "The Republican Party is attacking our judicial candidates with a series of ads and mailers that we believe has broken several rules of ethics and should result in a Republican judicial candidate losing her bar association recommendation."

The flyer references professional athletes kneeling or performing other demonstrations during the playing of the national anthem before games. Participants in movement, which began in the NFL, say their goal is to call attention to social injustices, particularly against African Americans, while opponents have countered that the demonstrations are disrespectful to military members.

Groen noted several Democratic candidates for state-wide judicial races have family members in the military, such as Supreme Court candidate Dwayne Woodruff, whose father served in the Vietnam and Korean wars and whose son is a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“Republicans have crossed a line with their unethical, purposefully misleading ads and they must be called to answer for that,' Groen said.

Woodruff, a Court of Common Pleas judge who played in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been outspoken against President Donald Trump's comments that players should be fired if the kneel for the national anthem.

“This past Friday, the leader of our country made disparaging comments, which only serve to push our country to become more divided and ultimately penalizes our First Amendment rights under the Constitution,” Woodruff said of Trump's remarks in September.

State Republicans defended the mailer, alluding to Woodruff's past comments.

“No one questions the right of NFL players to exercise their free speech," said Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Val DiGiorgio in a statement to Fox43. "We do, however, question their judgment, along with that of Supreme Court candidate Dwayne Woodruff."

"Our Republican judicial candidates stand to honor Americans of all races and ethnicities who put their lives on the lines everyday to protect our country," DiGiorgio continued. "I emphatically question the judgment of those in the Democrat Party and their slate of liberal activist judges if they believe that it is anything but shameful not to stand for our flag."