Dueling demonstrations scheduled for Lions game Sunday – one includes a chill tailgate

Oct 6, 2017 at 3:54 pm
Two weeks ago, after Donald Trump took aim at NFL players who kneel during the national anthem and the team owners who allow it, Detroit Lions players and leadership locked arms in a show of solidarity as the national anthem was sung at Ford Field. The formation along the sideline that Sunday was un-level, with eight players down on one knee.

Last week, as the Lions linked up again during the anthem, the number of players on a knee was down to two. Martha Ford had reportedly struck a deal with the athletes: In exchange for their standing, she would donate money to their upcoming efforts to address concerns about race relations.

Apparently, that is something a Trump supporter finds worthy of a protest.

Brian Pannebecker of Harrison Township tells the Free Press he will stage a demonstration outside Ford Field at the Lions' home game against the Carolina Panthers this Sunday.

The 57-year-old tells the paper the demonstration "is intended to encourage a fan boycott in response to the millionaire players and billionaire owners who show disrespect towards patriotic fans and our national anthem and flag."

One would think Pannebecker would have changed his tune following Ford's effort to get her whole team on its feet during the anthem, but as of today, it seems his protest is still on. Pannebecker now tells the Free Press the Trump Unity Bridge – a Livonia man's parade float thing that has somehow managed to continue rolling along in the face of dwindling funds and repeated acts of vandalism – will also be on hand for the event.

In announcing his protest two weeks ago, Pannebecker told the Freep he hopes to have "veterans and conservative patriots" stationed at Ford Field's four main entrances.

In response, some other patriots have planned a pretty chill-sounding counter-demonstration. The Metro-Detroit Political Action Network has posted the following itinerary to the Facebook page for its event:

10 AM-Noon: Tailgate cookout in Lot 5 on Montcalm and Brush St.
12-1 PM: Marching in support of Lions players taking a knee and rejecting white supremacy.
1 PM-4 PM: Post-march hangout, enjoying the game via radio or stream in Lot 5, eating more food.

They've asked demonstrators to bring posters showing "BLACK LIVES MATTER, WE SUPPORT THE LIONS, First Amendment Right, and Detroit Solidarity.’’

Detroit police are reportedly aware of the dueling protests and say plenty of officers will be on hand around Ford Field.