Keke Palmer on Convincing the National Guard to Kneel: ‘If We Are Unified, We Can Create Change’


Keke Palmer joined a George Floyd protest in Los Angeles yesterday, where footage of her talking to National Guardsmen went viral. The actress and her fellow protesters were able to convince them to take the knee in solidarity. Palmer spoke on Good Morning America today about that moment and why she had wanted the officers to march with her and do more than just take the knee. (Palmer is a co-host on the show’s third hour.)

In the video, Palmer spoke to a group of National Guard patrols, telling them, “[you have a president] saying ‘once the looting starts, the shooting starts. You have a president talking about the second amendment as a use for people to come out here and use fire arms against the people who are protesting. This is the messages that we’re seeing. I don’t know if you[‘re] on social media, because the news don’t tell you everything. But you have to pay attention to what’s going on or else we’re gonna—we have a president who’s trying to incite a race war. And when the borders are closed, we can’t leave. You have people in here that need your help. This is when you and y’all stand together with the community, with society to stop the governmental oppression, period. We need you.”

One of the guards said, “I agree with you.”

Palmer responded, “So march with us, march beside us. You get your people. Y’all march beside us. March beside us. March beside us. Let the revolution be televised; march beside us and show us that you’re here for us. Make history with us.”

She tried to encourage them to march, but they said they couldn’t go beyond the intersection they were patrolling and that they were watching over businesses there too. Someone else in the crowd asked they take the knee, and they did. “I don’t know, that ain’t enough for me,” Palmer told them.

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In her Good Morning America interview, Palmer spoke about how she came to approach them. “It happened very randomly,” she started. “You know, I was just talking to the people I was marching with, and I just posed the question of why are they not with us? Why are they not able to be with us? Here we are, marching in peace and with purpose, and I’m sure many of them feel the same way as we do. And I wanted us to just unite as human beings above all, and that’s when we started to approach them. “

Palmer explained why she wanted to see them do more than just kneel. “I think, you know, those that are kneeling, it can be seen as a walk in the same direction,” she said. “We all can also see that just moments after, that in some of these cities we have seen the kneel, we’ve also see the tear gassing and everything, the chaos afterward. So I feel the reality is that we have a president that at every tweet, incites divisiveness. Some would even say a situation where our military has orders to unleash on its citizens. And so obviously everybody has a choice to make in working for the government, whether you are a policeman or working with the National Guard or politics. I think I as a citizen want to know what side of history you’re trying to be on. Like, is there a person in that uniform? I know there’s a person in that uniform. And I want to know people that are in these powerful positions of saving or taking a life, I want to know they’re with the citizens and committed to taking a stand against the system and the injustices. And if we are unified, no matter who you are or what you’re wearing, we create change. Buildings can be rebuilt, but once lives are taken, they’re gone.”

Palmer then offered some words of advice to everyone: “First of all, that your voice matter,” she said. “You don’t have to be Keke or a quote-unquote celebrity or something like this. I’m a normal person who feels and breathes the same way you do. And I’m not a genius. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not the only voice that represents this topic. But in broad strokes, I think the media has a job to show the entire story. With the millennials, I think we spend time reading a little bit of what’s on the news and what’s online because, you know, we get to see it raw, from the viewer, from the people who are on the ground. And it’s not just a snapshot that fits one narrative but all perspectives. Voting, obviously, using our voice and dismantling the current system. You know, the conversation isn’t just are or are you not racist; the conversation is now how deep is your interest in eradicating racism and what are the actions you’re willing to take to systematically change the inequalities, you know, unifying no matter what your color or your job but being united as human beings, and to hold America accountable to be the great country we know she’s meant to be. I want to see her at her best. I want see her live up to the creed, that all people are here as equals.”

Watch her full interview below:

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