A statue of retired National Football League (NFL) star Ray Lewis in Baltimore now boasts extra security after he recently knelt during the national anthem, according to The Baltimore Sun.
The Sun on Wednesday reported that the boost in security follows an online petition calling for the statue’s removal from M&T Bank Stadium gained significant traction.
“There is additional security at the statue plaza at this time,” said Rachelina Bonacci, a spokesperson for the Maryland Stadium Authority, which is the stadium’s landlord.
“Certainly observers can notice the presence of uniformed security officers at M&T Bank Stadium, which includes the statue plaza,” she added of the statue of Lewis, a former Baltimore Ravens linebacker.
“The additional officers and other security enhancements have been in place since Sunday afternoon.”
Some Twitter users on Thursday debated removing the statue of Lewis after he recently sank to both knees during the national anthem.
U should be praying for mercy and when will your statue be ripped out. U lied on TV and disresp our troops kneeling on foreign land— alejandro (@murphy1312) September 28, 2017
If they remove statues of great patriots we don't need a statue of someone like Ray Lewis. Fans, bars unhappy with protest's impact— Deplorable Tom (@aquariumtom) September 28, 2017
More than 36,000 people had signed an online petition on Change.org as of Wednesday midafternoon calling for the removal of Lewis’s statue.
The petition supports removing the monument “because of [Lewis’s] refusal to stand during the National Anthem.”
“That song honors our country and our veterans who fought for it,” the petition reads. “To kneel during it is disrespectful, regardless of what you are protesting.”
Lewis knelt on both knees last Sunday alongside the current Ravens team before their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London.
“I dropped on two knees – both knees – so I can simply honor God in the midst of chaos,” he said on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” afterwards.
Scores of NFL coaches, executives and players have knelt during the national anthem since President Trump derided the gesture last week.
Trump said that the NFL should fire players who perform the controversial gesture, which was popularized by former league quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016.
Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem last year in protest of racial injustice in the U.S.
The phenomenon has since spread throughout the NFL and into other sports, sparking debate over whether it is unpatriotic or a vital display of free speech.
We asked veterans how they really feel about the NFL anthem protests.