San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did not stand during the “Star-Spangled Banner” before the Niners pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers on Friday night. While this was the first time anyone noticed, he has been doing this his entire professional career. Kaepernick has explained that he does so in protest because he can’t support a country that “country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
A closer look at the above photo revealed that Kaepernick didn’t stand during the national anthem. NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo later tweeted that Kaepernick has been doing this for his entire NFL career and teammates haven’t been happy with it.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter noted that Kaepernick wasn’t in uniform for the first two preseason games of the season, which might have explained why no one noticed.
In an interview with NFL.com, Kaepernick explained that he refuses to stand for a flag of a country that “oppresses black people and people of color.”
I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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.
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.
The 49ers also issued a statement:
The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.
The 28-year-old Kaepernick isn’t the only pro-sports star who has brought attention to the issue. NBA stars LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony all stood together at the ESPYs in July to call athletes to promote social change.
“The racial profiling has to stop. The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop. Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop. But also the retaliation has to stop. The endless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando, it has to stop. Enough. Enough is enough,” Wade said at the ESPYs. Wade’s cousin, Nykea Aldrige, was killed in Chicago Friday night.
On August 28, Kaepernick held a press conference in which he stood by his decision not to stand for the National Anthem.
“Ultimately, it’s to bring awareness and make people realize what’s really going on in this country,” he said. “There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust, people aren’t being held accountable for.”
Kaepernick also called Donald Trump “openly racist.” He also mentioned Hillary Clinton’s 1996 “super-predators” comment, which Clinton says she now regrets.
Kaepernick has also worn socks that depict police as bulldogs or pigs:
Those who follow Kaepernick on on Twitter know that he uses the social network as a platform to share stories of violence against minorities. Rather than tweet himself, he retweets others. Here are some tweets he has shared: