San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a defiant stand when he decided to remain seated during the national anthem before a pre-season NFL game.
The quarterback has said he will not stand for the national anthem unless there is “significant change” in how police treat people of color in the country. His defiance over not standing for the national anthem led to the instigation of a national debate over the weekend.
Colin Kaepernick on a ‘hunger strike’
“It has already brought along something meaningful because we are all talking about it,” Katheryn Russell-Brown, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida, said, as reported by USA Today. “[Kaepernick is] doing his version of a hunger strike. He went into this knowing that he was putting his career and reputation on the line by taking a stand.”
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Although the cop union said it respects Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the playing of the national anthem before the game, San Francisco objected to the reason for the quarterback’s decision and is subsequently demanding an apology.
As reported by the New York Daily News, an angry letter was issued by the head of the San Francisco Police Officers Association to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and 49ers head Jed York, highlighting Kaepernick’s “ill-advised statements.”
Colin Kaepernick: Police wants NFL to act
“While we certainly acknowledge Mr. Kaepernick’s first amendment right to remain seated during the National Anthem, as inappropriate as that may be, we will not stand by while he attacks police officers in this country with statements such as, ‘People are on paid leave while people of color are killed,’” the letter says.
It further urges that the NFL and 49ers “denounce [Kaepernick’s] foolish statements.”
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According to Oklahoma State sports media professor Edward Kian, Kaepernick’s defiance would send out a stronger message if other players side with him and decide to sit during the national anthem.
“Individually, I don’t think it will make a difference,” Kian said. “If more athletes speak up, that would be a different story.
Detroit Tigers’ Jarrod Saltalamacchia criticized Kaepernick over the latter’s decision. “He needs to go back to the history books and realize what that flag represents and what a lot of people have sacrificed for it,” Saltalamacchia said. “Has nothing to do with his comments, that’s for sure.
Former 49ers teammate Anquan Boldin, though not openly supporting Kaepernick, said the quarterback’s decision needs to be respected.
“I think a lot of people get bent out of shape about it,” Boldin said. “Even if you don’t agree with what someone does, you still have to respect their opinion and how they feel about something. You can agree or disagree with it, but you still have to respect it. That’s the right that we have as Americans, and that’s the great part about being an American.”