US Olympian Gwen Berry fires back after anthem controversy: ‘I never said that I hated the country’
Gwen Berry, a newly qualified U.S. Olympic hammer thrower who came under fire for her demonstration during the national anthem at recent track-and-field trials, dismissed assertions she hates the country she represents.
Berry finished in third place at the trials and made the team set to head to Tokyo next month for the coronavirus-delayed Olympic Games. But she drew negative attention when she turned away from the American flag as the national anthem blared and later covered her face with a shirt that read “Activist Athlete.”
Amid scrutiny and boisterous claims she shouldn’t be representing the U.S. in the Games, Berry fired back in an interview with the Black News Channel on Tuesday.
“I never said that I didn’t want to go to the Olympic Games. That’s why I competed and got third and made the team,” Berry said.
“I never said that I hated the country. I never said that. All I said was I respect my people enough to not stand for or acknowledge something that disrespects them. I love my people. Point blank, period.”
Berry said she specifically has an issue with a line in “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which she says alludes to catching and beating slaves.