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Football team's anthem protest spawns call for funding review

Missouri Rep. Nate Walker is appointed to Eric Greitens' Inaugural Leadership Group (File).

Republican State Representative Nate Walker of Kirksville has called for a committee to review all public funding for the Kansas City Chiefs following continued protests from members of the team during the national anthem at football games.

Walker said this is costing taxpayers money.

Since 1991 Missouri taxpayers have helped fund facilities for the Missouri National Football League (NFL) totaling more than $150 million.

"Recent protests are impacting viewership, hurting the fan base of the NFL and putting at risk all of our public investments," said Walker in a press release.

The protests, which began because of police brutality against African Americans, has gained momentum since former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the protest.

"The other issues you may not like. We can address those issues separate from during game time," Walker said.

When asked whether or not this is threatening the team's constitutional right to free speech, Walker said, "No."

"First Amendment rights can be used in a lot of ways, but you can't go into a theater and say, 'Fire!'"

This is in reference to a 1919 Supreme Court decision in the case of Schenck v. United States, where the court unanimously ruled that though the First Amendment protects free speech, it does not protect speech that causes insubordination in times of war.

Walker said this call for a committee to promote divisive rhetoric.

"It's not my goal to be more divisive. My goal is to bring the NFL, the players and everyone back the way it should be. There are certain things we do in our country in respect for each other, and one of those things is to stand and to be at attention while the national anthem is being played," Walker said.

If the committee is approved Walker is leaving it's legislative power open.

"I think it could be a dialogue, and maybe we can get some of the players to come in to testify, some of the owners to testify ... perhaps if there is legislation that needs to be approved we can introduce that," Walker said.

Lawmakers from several other states have submitted resolutions to prevent players from kneeling.

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