Dominic Raab told TalkRadio Thursday that he understood the frustration driving the Black Lives Matter movement, before adding: “I’ve got to say on this taking the knee thing — which I don’t know, maybe it’s got a broader history — but it seems to be taken from the Game of Thrones.”
“It feels to me like a symbol of subjugation and subordination, rather than one of liberation and emancipation,” he said. “But I understand people feel differently about it, so it is a matter of personal choice.”
David Lammy, the justice spokesperson for Britain’s opposition Labour Party, said the remarks were insulting and “deeply embarrassing.”
Raab later took to Twitter to stress he has full respect for the Black Lives Matter movement and anyone who chooses to take a knee. Downing Street said that Raab had been expressing a “personal opinion.”
To be clear: I have full respect for the Black Lives Matter movement, and the issues driving them. If people wish to take a knee, that’s their choice and I respect it. We all need to come together to tackle any discrimination and social injustice.
The gesture has come to be recognized as a symbolic act in opposing racism and police violence and has been widely used by people worldwide protesting the death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis on May 25.
It gained momentum in 2016 when American football player Colin Kaepernick took the knee during the national anthem before a game to protest racism and police brutality.