ALBANY - A majority of New York voters support the right of National Football League players to kneel during the national anthem, but there's a near-even split upstate, according to a new poll.
The Siena College poll released Friday found 60 percent of state voters sided with the athletes, whose protest against racial inequalities grew after President Donald Trump said the kneeling football players should be fired.
Just 38 percent of voters sided with those who say the athletes' protest is disrespectful and should be done on their own time, according to the poll.
Upstate voters, however, were split, with 51 percent saying the protest is disrespectful and 49 percent siding with the protesters.
The poll showed drastic differences among political party, with more than 70 percent of Democrats supporting the protest and 70 percent of Republicans opposing it.
Among different ethnic groups, 88 percent of black voters sided with the players, compared to 53 percent of white voters.
"Democrats and independents, men and women, liberals and moderates, downstaters, blacks, whites and Latinos, young, middle-aged and older voters, Jews and Protestants say the 1st Amendment trumps disrespect, and that they support the rights of athletes to kneel during the anthem," Siena pollster Steve Greenberg said in a statement.
Dozens of NFL players have kneeled during the national anthem in recent weeks, while some teams have instead opted to kneel in unison immediately prior to the anthem.
Last year, then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the protest, declining to stand for the anthem as a way to speak out against police brutality and racial oppression.
Late last month, Trump called for kneeling players to be fired, saying NFL owners should act.
A national USA Today/Suffolk University poll found 68 percent of voters believed it was inappropriate for Trump to call for owners to fire the players and attendees to walk out of games.
Fifty-one percent of voters polled nationwide said they found the players' protest appropriate, according to the poll.
In New York, Siena polled 798 voters from Sept. 25-28 and Oct. 1-2, according to the poll, which has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.