We have been closely following the reactions to San Francisco Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to stay seated during the playing of the national anthem. He chose this controversial form of civil disobedience as a means to protest unequal treatment of African Americans by police. He knew it would ruffle feathers and ruffle feathers it has!
That is not to say that he doesn’t have plenty of support. Some fellow athletes, such as U.S. Soccer’s Megan Rapinoe, have been inspired to show their solidarity by also abstaining from standing. Even some U.S. military veterans have come to his defense.
Other reactions have been less favorable. We’ve heard from hypocritical NFL executives who have called Kaepernick’s choice nothing short of traitorous. Sure they will turn a blind eye to wife beaters and dog killers, but if you don’t stand during a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, you’re scum of the earth.
The latest group to respond unfavorably brings with their response a sinister undertone.
Vox is reporting that the Santa Clara police union threatened to stop providing security at the stadium where the San Francisco 49ers play.
“The Board of Directors of the Santa Clara Police Officers Association has a duty to protect its members and work to make all of their working environments free of harassing behavior. SCPOA members have worked thousands of hours at Levi’s stadium, 49er training camp and headquarters protecting guests, players and fellow employees. Our officers voluntarily agree to work these assignments. If the 49ers organization fails to take action to stop this type of inappropriate workplace behavior, it could result in police officers choosing not to work at your facilities.”
To his credit, Santa Clara Police Chief Michael Sellers rebuked the letter from the SCPOA, saying:
“Many of us in the law enforcement community have been saddened and angered by Kaepernick’s words and actions. His blanket statements disparaging the law enforcement profession are hurtful and do not help bring the country together. As distasteful as his actions are, these actions are protected by the Constitution. Police officers are here to protect the rights of every person, even if we disagree with their position.”
Meanwhile, word from the 49ers is that Kaepernick is now the second string quarterback – a decision that does not appear on the surface at least, to be related to his protests.
Kaepernick is also putting his money where his seat is. According to ESPN, he pledged to donate the first $1 million he makes this season plus proceeds from the sales of his jersey, toward helping organizations that he believes can make a difference in closing the inequality gap.
Here’s a video of Kaepernick defending his display of civil disobedience:
Image is a YouTube screengrab.