San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is not going to end his protest against the national anthem any time soon. The quarterback has asserted that many of his critics are using patriotism to dismiss his stand against police brutality.
On Sept. 20, Kaepernick revealed that he had received death threats in an interview with San Jose Mercury News.
“I’ve had a few come my way, but not too concerned about it,” Kaepernick said.
The quarterback added that he has little sympathy for his critics, who have said that he is disrespecting the U.S. and military veterans by snubbing the national anthem.
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Kaepernick stated that his critics are disregarding the point of his protest, and that the “message has been out there loud and clear for quite some time now."
“There’s a lot of racism disguised as patriotism in this country and people don’t like to address that and they don’t like to address what the root of this protest is,” Kaepernick continued.
The quarterback pointed to the Sept. 16 shooting death of unarmed Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a reason why he will continue to kneel during the national anthem.
“This is a perfect example of what this is about,” Kaepernick said. “It will be very telling about what happens to the officer that killed him.”
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Crutcher, 40, had been shot by Officer Betty Shelby after police had seen his abandoned vehicle in the middle of the road.
Shelby’s attorneys have defended her actions, stating that Crutcher had appeared visibly intoxicated, was not compliant with her orders, and that she was concerned he was reaching into his vehicle to grab a gun, according to CNN.
The attorneys representing the Crutcher family have fired back that Crutcher had put his hands up in surrender, had no firearm in his possession, was visibly confused and that his car window had been rolled up when Shelby shot him.
“There’s no consideration or benefit of the doubt given,” said Benjamin Crump, the Crutcher family’s attorney. “We immediately jump to the conclusion that they’re a big bad dude, that they’re nefarious, that they’re a criminal. Why is that?”
Kaepernick deemed footage of the incident to be damning.
“No one went and checked on him, no one tried to resuscitate him, nothing,” Kaepernick said. “They walked around, went about their business and made up lies to cover up their murder that they just committed. That’s not right, and they should be in prison.”
New England Patriots defensive end Chris Long, a white man and previous Kaepernick teammate, had defended the national anthem protest.
“I’ll make it pretty clear: I support my peers in exercising their right to protest,” Long told ESPN. “This is a wonderful country, and I think everyone agrees on that, but there are things in our country that can improve."
While Long stated that he would not personally kneel during the national anthem, he added that if his peers “identify something that they think is worth putting their reputations on the line, creating controversy, I'm going to listen to those guys.”
Kaepernick noted that he found it funny that the media had not devoted much attention to Long’s comments.
“That’s where it gets very touchy because a white player standing up for this is like, 'OK, now we really have to address it, it isn't just black people speaking out because they feel like they're being attacked,'’” Kaepernick said.
President Barack Obama was asked to weigh in on the Kaepernick controversy during the G20 economic summit in China.
“As a general matter, when it comes to the flag, and the National Anthem and the meaning that that holds for our men and women in uniform and those that fought for us -- that is a tough thing for them to get past, to then hear what his deeper concerns are,” Obama said, according to Fox News.
The president added that he would rather have “young people who are engaged in the argument … than people who are just sitting on the sidelines not paying attention at all.”
Kaepernick has previously clarified that his protest is not aimed at U.S. military veterans, WCBS reports.
“They fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice for everyone, and that’s not happening,” Kaepernick said.