YORK CO, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson took to social media Sunday night to comment on taking a knee during the National Anthem following the Carolina Panthers season-opener 34-30 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Eight Panthers knelt for the national anthem on Sunday, including Teddy Bridgewater, while nine others raised their fist in protest of racial injustice before the game at Bank of America Stadium. The Raiders stood side-by-side for the national anthem with no demonstrations.
Among the other Carolina players who knelt for the anthem were Kawann Short, Anderson, Stephen Weatherly, Yetur Gross-Matos, Pride Jr., Bravvion Roy, and Brian Burns. Linebacker Shaq Thompson was among those who raised his fist.
Both teams stood earlier for the playing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Following Sunday’s game, York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson released this statement on Facebook:
“As your Sheriff of York County, here is my position on taking a knee during the National Anthem. Our flag was created out of unity – 50 stars for 50 states. It represents the melting pot of all of the many great men and women who have made this country mixed and beautiful.
I will bow (or kneel) for one entity and one entity only – my God. For those of you who want to kneel or bow for the flag during the anthem, just know that you are kneeling or bowing for our God who STANDS for peace, unity and love for all – regardless of race, gender or nationality.
We will STAND for all and KNEEL for the only one – God. Kevin.”
More than 2,000 comments came flooding in on Facebook following Sheriff Tolson’s statement, with more than 3,000 reactions and nearly 1,000 shares.
The York County Sheriff’s Office released a follow-up statement on Monday, saying Sheriff Tolson decided to publish a statement about his views after being asked multiple times about his feelings on the matter of kneeling during the National Anthem.
Sheriff Tolson reportedly used Facebook because he “believes that his constituents have a right to know his beliefs about this social issue.”
“Sheriff Tolson understands that not everyone agrees with his opinions about this issue. The ability to listen to and respect a different opinion is one of the founding principles of our country and Sheriff Tolson hopes speaking freely will help to continue beneficial conversation and ultimately bring peace and unity to our society,” the York County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.
The sheriff’s office went on to say that Sheriff Tolson is not bound by the policies of York County Government regarding the use of social media and any statement he makes is his own.