U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence left an NFL game Sunday after about a dozen players took a knee during the national anthem, a form of demonstration that began last year as a symbolic protest against police violence.
Pence walked out of the stadium before the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers game began. Some players from the 49ers kneeled during the anthem, while some Colts wore black T-shirts with the words “We Will” on the front and “Stand for equality, justice, unity, respect, dialogue, opportunity” on the back.
Some American football players have chosen to kneel rather than stand when the national anthem is played before games as a form of protest against police violence.
The movement gained momentum when U.S. President Donald Trump made comments suggesting any player protesting was a “son of a bitch” and should be fired.
WATCH: Why NFL players are taking a knee during U.S. national anthem
After Pence walked out of the game, the White House issued a statement from Pence in which he said Americans should rally around the flag. “I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem,” the statement read.
Trump took to Twitter saying he was proud of Pence and his wife for leaving the game.
Donald Trump Jr., the President’s eldest son, also tweeted his support for Pence’s decision. “Amen. After almost a decade it’s great to have leaders who have pride in our country again,” he wrote.
Pence, the former governor of Indiana, had previously tweeted a picture of himself at another Colts game and said he was excited to watch the ceremony honouring retired quarterback Peyton Manning, who had a statue unveiled outside the stadium Saturday.
*With files from Reuters