Two NFL players join Kaepernick’s protest of inequality, crowd boos 49ers quarterback
Two NFL players join Kaepernick’s protest of inequality, crowd boos 49ers quarterback
Colin Kaepernick has insisted he is not ‘anti-American’ after he refused to stand up for the national anthem yet again, but promised to donate his first $1million earned this season to community organizations.
The controversial quarterback knelt down as a black Navy sailor sang The Star Spangled Banner ahead of the San Francisco 49ers final pre-season game in San Diego on Thursday night.
Kaepernick’s teammate, safety Eric Reid, 24, also stayed down during the anthem while the Seattle Seahawks 26- year-old cornerback, Jeremy Lane, chose to sit on the bench before his game in Oakland.
After the game, the $19million-a-year Kaepernick insisted he ‘loved America’ and expressed his gratitude to the military.
The quarterback cited numerous reasons for his actions, ranging from racial injustice and minority oppression to police brutality and the treatment of military veterans.
Vowing to continue his stand, he said: ‘The dream result would be equality, justice for everybody.’
His refusal to stand for the anthem first came to public notice last week when he remained seated on the 49ers’ bench before a preseason match against Green Bay.
Kaepernick and Reid knelt during the national anthem before the 49ers’ 31-21 preseason victory over San Diego, ignoring boos and angry shouts in Qualcomm Stadium at the Chargers’ Salute to the Military preseason game.
Reid, who played college football for Louisiana State University, told reporters earlier this week that there is an ‘issue in this country with minorities.’
‘I think it would be foolish if you were to say there isn’t an issue in this country with minorities,’ Reid, who is African-American said.
‘There’s a million issues in America and this is something he feels strongly about and I respect him for voicing his opinion on it.’
The 49ers’ safety shocked some by joining Kaepernick, including the team’s head coach.
Chip Kelly, who was hired by the 49ers as head coach back in January, told reporters after the game that he was unaware that Reid would not stand during the national anthem.
‘I was not aware of that,’ Kelly said of Reid. ‘All I was aware of was that Nate Boyer was going to be out there.’
He also did not discuss Kaepernick’s status on the team directly, only stating that he’s there to coach the football team.
Kaepernick said he plans to continue his protests during the regular season and was proud of the two other NFL players who joined his protest.
Speaking after the game he said: ‘I’m not anti-American. I love America. I love people. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to help make America better, and I think having these conversations helps everybody have a better understanding of where everybody is coming from.’
The quarterback said he was protesting because of racial injustice and minority oppression, as well as police brutality.
He said he would donate the first $1million he earns this season to ‘different organizations to help these communities and help these people,’ declining to provide specifics.
‘I am planning to take it a step further, I’m currently working with organizations to be involved, and making sure I’m actively in these communities, as well as donating the first million dollars I make this year to different organizations to help these communities and help these people,’ he said.
‘I’ve been very blessed to be in this position and make the kind of money I do, and I have to help these people. I have to help these communities.
‘It’s not right that they’re not put in the position to succeed, or given the opportunities to succeed.
‘The message is that we have a lot of issues in this country that we need to deal with. We have a lot of people that are oppressed.
‘We have a lot of people that aren’t treated equally, that aren’t given equal opportunities. Police brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of issues that need to be talked about.’
The Star Spangled Banner was sung by a black sailor before the start of the game as members of the armed forces were honored
His teammate Reid said: ‘I just wanted to show my support for him. He wanted to make it clear that he wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to the military or the national anthem, so he decided to change his position to be more respectful, but still bring awareness to the issues that he believes are going on in this country, and that I wholeheartedly believe exist in this country.’
Up north in Oakland, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane showed his support for Kaepernick by sitting on the bench during the anthem.
Lane, who played collegiate football at Northwestern State University of Louisiana, said he doesn’t know Kaepernick, but was ‘standing behind him.’
‘It’s something I plan to keep on doing until I feel like justice has been served. No, I didn’t tell anyone I was going to do it. I just did it. … I don’t mean no disrespect toward anybody, but I’m just standing behind what I believe’, he remarked.
He added that he had been thinking about sitting out during the national anthem for the a while.
‘I thought about it for a week or so and I just think it’s okay for me to do it,’ Lane said.
He also noted that he didn’t tell his teammates or the head coach Pete Carroll of his plan to sit through a performance by saxophone player Mike Phillips.
‘Nah, I didn’t tell anyone was going to do it, I just did it,’ Lane, who signed a $23million four-year contract with the team in the offseason said.
He added that he is prepared for whatever backlash or controversy comes his way for joining Kaepernick.
In regards to Lane’s actions, Carroll called it ‘an individual thing,’ and said he could not discuss what he thinks if Lane continues to sit during the anthem.
‘But I am really proud of the progress we are making in the conversation and I look forward to continuing it with our guys,’ Carroll said.
‘It’s really important for us to understand and to be smart about what we are doing and how we handle our business.
‘And we have, like I have been telling you, we have a great group of guys that lead this team and they are going to help us as we move forward.’
When Kaepernick left the field following pregame warmups, he was greeted with profanity and obscene gestures from Leo Uzcategui, a 20-year Navy veteran.
‘I was in the Navy and I saw men and women bleed and die for this flag,’ Uzcategui said. ‘If he wants to do something, go to some outreach program where he can do some good.
‘And I get it, his First Amendment right. But you don’t sit during the presenting of the colors, and you don’t sit during the national anthem. That is not the way to do it.’
A sign in the crowd read: ‘You’re an American. Act like one.’
Republican nominee Donald Trump has called his protest a ‘terrible thing’.
The billionaire said: ‘Maybe he should find a country that works better for him, let him try, it’s not gonna happen.’
NFL executives have reportedly said they ‘hate’ the $19million-a-year University of Nevada recruit and have branded him a traitor.
He drew further fury by wearing socks with pigs depicted as police officers during one of his pre-game routines.
In a statement the San Francisco Police Officer’s Association called him ‘misinformed’ and demanded an apology.
San Francisco’s former police chief resigned in May under pressure from the city’s mayor following the second of two recent high-profile police killings of black suspects and amid criticism over racist text messages sent by officers in the department.
Kaepernick is the latest black athlete to use the arena as a national platform for protest against racial injustice.
In the 1995-1996 season, NBA player and Muslim convert Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to salute the US flag during pre-game ceremonies, instead stretching during the national anthem and avoiding looking at the banner, saying it was incompatible with his beliefs.
He was suspended by the league for one game, but his views eroded his fan base.
Muhammad Ali famously refused to serve in the Vietnam War – which saw him prosecuted for draft evasion and effectively banned from the sport for three years.
There was also the iconic ‘Black Power’ salute of American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised black-gloved fists while standing on the medal podium at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968.
The pair were denouncing racial segregation in America and were reviled for decades before being hailed for their courage to speak out on injustice.
Kaepernick had been sitting out the national anthem in San Francisco’s first three preseason games but it was not widely noticed until last Friday’s game against Green Bay.
The use of force by police against African-Americans in cities such as Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore and New York has sparked periodic and sometimes destructive protests in the past two years and prompted the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Kaepernick does not intend his stance to be a criticism of the military.
When the Chargers’ public-address announcer asked fans to recognize active military personnel during a timeout, the quarterback stood and enthusiastically applauded along with his teammates and the entire stadium.
He said: ‘I realize that men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put themselves in harm’s way for my freedom of speech, and my freedoms in this country, and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee.
‘So I have the utmost respect for them, and I think what I did was taken out of context and spun a different way.’
While negative reaction to the quarterback has been strong, Kaepernick also has been widely praised for his commitment to his stance.
Veterans and military members tweeted their support for Kaepernick in recent days under the hashtag ‘VeteransForKaepernick.’
He said: ‘It was something I was thinking about to make sure that I’m not just talking about something, but I’m actively being involved and actively trying to make a change in these communities.
‘I’ve been very blessed to be in this position and be able to make the kind of money I do, and I have to help these people.’
The 49ers’ Thursday away game against the San Diego Chargers was the team’s last preseason contest before the regular season begins.