White House press secretary Jen Psaki Monday defended U.S. track and field star Gwen Berry’s decision to turn her back on the nation’s flag, saying Berry was engaged in “peacefully protest” of moments that Americans “haven’t lived up to our highest ideals.”
Berry, 31, placed third over the weekend in the hammer throw during the U.S. Olympic trials, earning her a spot on the team. As the National Anthem was played, she turned from the flag.
“This weekend, Gwen Barry, who hopes to represent the United States as an Olympian on the hammer throwing events, won a bronze medal at the trials, and then she turned her back on the flag while the anthem played,” Fox News’ Peter Doocy said to Psaki during the daily White House briefing. “Does President Biden think that is appropriate behavior for someone who hopes to represent Team USA?”
“Well, Peter, I — I haven’t spoken to the President specifically about this, but I know he’s incredibly proud to be an American and has great respect for the Anthem and all that it represents, especially for our men and women serving in uniform all around the world,” Psaki said.
“He would also say, of course, that part of that pride in our country means recognizing there are moments where we are — as a country, haven’t lived up to our highest ideals, and it means respecting the right of people, granted to them in the Constitution, to peacefully protest.”
Berry has a history of taking controversial stances, raising a fist during the medal ceremony at the Pan American Games in 2019.
The anthem doesn’t speak for me. It never has,” said Berry. “My purpose and my mission is bigger than sports,” Berry said.