Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has filed a grievance against the National Football League. Kaepernick became the focal point of a national debate over racial injustice when he began to sit during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African-Americans.
Mark Geragos, Kaepernick's attorney, called for an arbitration hearing in the Oct. 15 collective bargaining agreement grievance filing. The lawyer asserted that NFL team owners "have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick's leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States."
The filing was submitted to the NFL Players Association and all 32 team owners. Geragos stated that Kaepernick filed the grievance "only after pursuing every possible avenue with all NFL teams and their executives."
"Colin Kaepernick's goal has always been, and remains, to simply be treated fairly by the league he performed at the highest level for and to return to the football playing field," Geragos said in a supplemental statement.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in August 2016, when his protests began. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
Kaepernick later opted to kneel during the anthem instead of remaining seated.
The quarterback decided to leave his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March and has yet to be signed by another team. Several NFL insiders and civil rights advocates have accused the league of blackballing Kaepernick because of his protest.
"To make a martyr out of Kaepernick under these circumstances is not only counterproductive ... it's absolutely masochistic," activist Harry Edwards told USA Today. "All they had to do is say: 'We're going to give him a shot.' That's all they had to do."
On Sept. 22, President Donald Trump reignited the national debate over Kaepernick's protest when he asserted during an Alabama rally that NFL players who kneel during the anthem should be fired.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: 'Get that son of a b***h off the field right now. Out! He's fired. He's fired!'" Trump said, according to The Guardian.