Colin Kaepernick took a knee for Thursday’s national anthem, arms folded, expressionless. This time, he had company. He was joined by one of his teammates, and a Seattle Seahawks player a few hours up the California coast who was protesting as well.
Kaepernick didn’t stand for the national anthem before the San Francisco 49ers’ preseason finale at the San Diego Chargers. Kaepernick said last Sunday he wouldn’t stand for the national anthem, a protest he started during the 49ers’ first three preseason games. Kaepernick said he is protesting racial injustice in the United States, and police brutality in particular.
“I’m not anti-American. I love America. I love people. That’s why I’m doing this,” Kaepernick said. “I want to make America better. I think having these conversations helps everybody have a better understanding of where everybody is coming from. And those conversations are important to have, because the better we understand each other, the better we know each other, the better we can deal and communicate with each other, which ultimately puts everybody in a better position.”
49ers safety Eric Reid, who was not in uniform because many starters don’t play in the fourth preseason game, took a knee next to Kaepernick during the anthem. After the game Reid said it was Kaepernick’s idea to take a knee and not sit, because it showed more respect” to the anthem and the military.
“It was amazing,” Kaepernick said in his postgame news conference, which was broadcast on NFL Network. “We wanted to make sure the message we’re trying to send isn’t lost with the action that’s coming along with it.”
Kaepernick said he’d probably continue to take a knee, and “as far as how long this goes, I’m not sure.”
Reid hugged Kaepernick when the anthem was over, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News said many teammates and Nate Boyer, a former University of Texas long snapper and Green Beret, hugged Kaepernick after the anthem. Boyer this week supported Kaepernick’s right to protest during the anthem and tweeted out a photo of him and Kaepernick together on Thursday.
Thanks for the invite brother… Good talk. Let's just keep moving forward. This is what America should be all about pic.twitter.com/LgjPpjk173
— Nate Boyer (@NateBoyer37) September 2, 2016
The two 49ers weren’t alone. According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times and Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune, Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane sat down during the national anthem before his team’s game against the Raiders in Oakland.
“It’s something I plan to keep doing until I feel like justice is being served,” Lane said after the game, according to Condotta.
NFL Network showed the Chargers-49ers national anthem live, occasionally cutting to shots of Kaepernick sitting. Reid has spoken out about political issues before; he wrote a first-person column for The MMQB in July regarding Alton Sterling being shot and killed by police in his hometown of Baton Rouge, La.
Kaepernick said it was “disappointing” that the message of his protest was lost in the debate about everything else surrounding it in the past week.
“I think that’s something that’s hard for this country to address, and that’s what the real issues are and coming to the point where we can admit these are issues,” Kaepernick said after the game. “Once we admit that, we can deal with it, we can fix them and we can make this country and these communities a better place.”
Kaepernick said he was planning to continue to speak out and take action as well. He said he’d donate the first $1 million he’d make this season to “help these communities and help these people.” (Yahoo’s Charles Robinson wrote about how Kaepernick planned to move his message forward.)
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