My gut reaction is "way off base". And I still think that, except.
I'll explain the except in a minute but first the "way off base". For the original reason stated by the original protestor, this Nation does everything it can to discourage racism, ESPECIALLY in government arenas.
Are there individual racists? Sure, ON BOTH SIDES. Does that label our Nation, not in the least. There are racist organizations, (on both sides) and that does not label the Nation either, so..... the protest focus should be on something/someone else, not our Flag nor our National Anthem.
Was our Nation racist at one time? It appears some of it WAS off-base when it came to race, but that is OVER and we cannot keep living in the past or paying for past sins NOT PERPETRATED by the Nation existing today.
Do we forget it? Never, but the same goes for the age old fighting between Jews and Arabs, Christians and Muslims. Now, crimes committed today are another matter, but lest I get too far off my original intent, I will leave it there.
Now for the "except". There are grounds for demonstrating the third verse, fifth line of the Anthem, which is rarely, RARELY ever read,let alone sung. Go here to read it http://www.music.army.mil/music/nationalanthem/. There, now it has been read by more.
I was curious why that would have been included in the original writing and it seems that a substantial number of slaves were enticed and did in-fact go over to the British side during that war. Not that I can blame them for wanting to regain their freedom but many in the U.S. saw that as traitorous. http://starspangledtrail.net/life-during-wartime/blacks (look under "enslaved blacks")
Black men also served the U.S. as soldiers, and even then there were attempts to correct the wrongs of slavery. The plantation owner tried to claim land won by a slave's service in the 38th US Infantry at Fort McHenry. The claim was denied and his family received his land after a court battle with his former master, who sued that he should receive the property since he legally owned the slave.
The modified demonstration of standing with linked arms is a more appropriate action. I also saw one kneeling but with his hand over his heart.