Animal rights group PETA defended an ad it said was rejected for the Super Bowl broadcast this year, after some critics said it trivialized and appropriated quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest against police brutality and racial injustice.

The minute-long animated spot, which has gone viral on Twitter, shows animals from bears to horses taking a knee, ending with an American bald eagle kneeling, before the caption rolls: “Respect is the right of every living being #EndSpeciesism.”

THIS is the PETA #SuperBowl ad the @NFL apparently didn’t want you to see and pressured @FOXSports to snub.It envisions a world where respect is the right of every being and pays homage to Kaepernick and movements rejecting injustice. — PETA (@peta) January 31, 2020

While some praised the advertisement, others on social media said it exploited a protest first staged by Kaepernick in 2016 to bring attention to police violence against black Americans.

“PETA has a long history of misappropriating images of Black suffering & Black struggle to promote its brand,” Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, wrote on Twitter.

“Using kneeling animals in this #SuperBowl ad is a new low.”

PETA has been purposefully drawing controversy in their ads for years. Their 2003 campaign, “Holocaust on your plate,” compared the suffering of Jewish people in the holocaust to that of livestock, inspiring German lawmakers to ban such comparisons in future commercials in 2009.

In an email to Reuters, a representative for PETA, otherwise known as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, defended the ad and said that Kaepernick had approved of it.

“No living being, old, young, from another country, LGBTQ, of color, or of another species, should be disrespected,” said spokeswoman Moira Colley. She said that Fox, which is broadcasting the Super Bowl, did not accept the advertisement.

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