San Francisco 49ers star Colin Kaepernick continues his very public protest against the American flag and the national anthem. Kaepernick did it again by taking a knee during the anthem before Thursday night’s game against the San Diego Chargers, but this time he was joined by fellow 49er safety Eric Reid. While many have taken to Twitter to slam Colin, the NFL star still has plenty of fans and supporters, while a new controversy brews over his choice of socks, which were a form of protest too.
Colin Kaepernick’s protest was considered to be even more outrageous or brave depending on your point of view because the San Diego Chargers just happened to be holding their 28th Annual Salute to the Military night.
So much has happened in the past week revolving around the Colin Kaepernick story. A scandal and a non-story to many, last week a Colin Kaepernick protest started a media ruckus when he refused to stand during the playing of the American national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” before the start of a preseason game.
The conservative media is ablaze with hostility to the 49er while Kaepernick’s actions were defended by former pro athletes like Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul Jabar. Now, Colin is being lambasted because of his choice of socks.
As reported by CNN, Colin Kaepernick told the press after the game that he would continue to exercise his right to freedom of speech by not standing during the national anthem. Colin stated that “as far as how long this goes, I’m not sure. I want to be able to affect change and I think there are a lot of other people who do as well.”
But this time, Colin made a change. Kaepernick protested by kneeling on the sidelines rather than sit down because he wanted “to show more respect for men and women who fight for the country.”
“The media painted this as I’m anti-American. I’m anti-men and women of the military. That’s not the case at all.”
Colin Kaepernick felt the need to say something about how members of the military feel.
“I realize men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives, put their selves in harm’s way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country, my freedom to take a seat or take a knee. I have the most utmost respect for them. And I think what I did was taken out of context and spun a different way.”
Many of the veterans in attendance, however, did not see any sort of concession on Kaepernick’s part in how he protested this time and were still appalled.
Leo Uzcategui, a 20-year Navy veteran who was at the Sand Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs game, told Fox News, “I was in the Navy and I saw men and women bleed and die for this flag. If he [Kaepernick] wants to do something, go to some outreach program where he can do some good. And I get it, his First Amendment right. But you don’t sit during the presenting of the colors, and you don’t sit during the national anthem. That is not the way to do it.”
But Kaepernick did have supporters among military veterans. Nate Boyer is a former NFL player as well as a former Green Beret. He was invited by Collin to attend the game and stood next to the 49er on the sideline during “The Star-Spangled Banner” as Kaepernick took a knee in protest.
Boyer tweeted a picture of the two standing side by side smiling saying, “Good talk. Let’s just keep moving forward. This is what America should be all about.”
And members of the military have been speaking up to voice their support of the Colin Kaepernick protest as well. Kaiesha N. Wright, an active duty officer in the U.S. Army with more than 16 years of experience, published an open letter of support for Colin in the Root on Thursday. The veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq pointed out that Colin “did not disrupt anyone else’s ability to listen to or sing the national anthem.”
Wright further wrote in defense of Colin Kaepernick, “All service members take an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States—not a flag, a song or any other symbolic item to which some, including service members, have attached their own authoritarian brand of patriotism that they desire to (undemocratically) foist upon others.”
And plenty of fans have no problem with Colin Kaepernick’s protest and have even been asking for plenty of autographs before games. This can be seen in the following picture.
And Kaepernick’s protest is spreading. Seattle Seahawks player Jeremy Lane also sat during the playing of the National Anthem before a game against the Oakland Raiders.
However, as if the whole national anthem protest wasn’t enough, Kaepernick inflamed further controversy with his choice of socks. In this era, every piece of all NFL player’s uniforms must adhere to strict guidelines, including their socks.
But this was during a training camp session and not on live television during an official game when the rules apply as with Colin’s more formal protests. Pictures have surfaced of Colin wearing a pair of socks that had cartoon images of cops as pigs on them. The politics behind the imagery and the association of police with pigs is clear to all and many police are not happy about it.
Bill Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, is one of many who voiced anger at Kaepernick publicly.
He told USA Today Sports, “It’s just ridiculous that the same league that prohibits the Dallas (Cowboys) football club from honoring the slain officers in their community with their uniforms stands silent when Kaepernick is dishonoring police officers with what he’s wearing on the field.”
Kaepernick explained in the following Instagram post that he only wore the socks to protest what he calls “rogue cops” who are guilty of crimes. Colin also pointed out that he has close relatives who are police officers.
So the question now is will Colin Kaepernick’s protests against the national anthem continue? And, more importantly, will the condemnation of the 49er increase and will his supporters grow enough so that they drown out the calls for Colin to stop and be reprimanded by the NFL.
[Photo by Harry How/Getty Images]