Qcitymetro file photo

A group of pastors and activists will gather outside Bank of America Stadium tonight for a “Kneel-In” protest, just before the Carolina Panthers-Philadelphia Eagles game. 

The protest, set for 7:30 p.m. at the intersection of Mint and Graham streets, is expected to attract at least 100 people, one of the organizers told Qcitymetro.

Kneeling during the national anthem has become a form of protest for some National Football League players, inspired Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who routinely took a knee in 2016. Kaepernick said his actions were meant to draw attention to racism and police shootings of black and brown people — including the killing of Keith Lamont Scott, who was killed in 2016 by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer.

Kaepernick, one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, has not been picked up by another NFL team, leading supporters to suspect that owners and league officials have conspired to punish him.

Bishop Kevin Long of Charlotte’s Temple Church International told Qcitymetro that he hopes tonight’s protest will spark “continued discussion” on the issues raised by Kaepernick.

“We are not protesting the flag, the military, or any establishments in Charlotte,” he said. “We are protesting aggressive policing.”

The group will take a knee also for NFL players who might wish to kneel but have been essentially forbidden to do so by NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell, Long said.    

Organizers said in a statement that the “Kneel-In” will spotlight “disparities and disparate treatment that continues to marginalize people of color in America.”  

Long said reaction to the planned protest from the Panthers organization and CMPD has been “very favorable.”