Stars from John Legend to Bette Midler have rounded on Donald Trump after he criticised American football stars for kneeling during the national anthem.
The US president had called for National Football League (NFL) players to be “fired” for their stance, sparking an outcry when he called on team owners to “get that son of a bitch off the field”.
NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the protests last year to bring attention to police brutality against minorities.
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was among those to demonstrate her support.
“As a football fan, I am proud of the NFL players today. Nothing is more American than the right to peacefully protest,” she wrote on Twitter.
Singer and actress Midler wrote: “A truth that Trump will not acknowledge, is that Take A Knee is not about disrespect for the flag. It’s about protesting police brutality.”
US comedian and TV host Chelsea Handler wrote: “I am watching football today out of respect for all these players. Good for you Kaepernick for starting a movement. Black lives matter.”
Singer Legend said the protests are the “definition of patriotism”.
“I sing for a living—no one would want me on their NFL team. But if I could, I’d take a knee on Sundays. Because these conversations are necessary for progress….They are the definition of patriotism,” he wrote in the publication Slate.
“Protest is patriotic. Protest has played a critically important role in elevating the voices of the most vulnerable in our nation.”
And singer John Mayer wrote on Twitter: “I know I shouldn’t talk sports, but Trump’s comments re NFL further prove he’s hellbent on poisoning all aspects of American life.”
Actress Olivia Wilde shared an image from the stage of her Broadway production of 1984, writing on Instagram: “Proud to be a part of this cast, who took a knee as our curtain closed today.”
US singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder showed his backing for the #TakeAKnee movement at the Global Citizen Festival in New York’s Central Park.
Wonder told the music festival: “Whenever you need to interrupt hate, stand down bigotry, condemn sexism and find love for all of our global brothers and sisters every day.
“Tonight, I’m taking a knee for America.
“But not just one knee, I’m taking both knees, both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world and our globe – amen.”