Colin Kaepernick sat through the anthem for his first protest on Aug. 26, 2016, which he said was to protest racial inequality and police mistreatment of minorities.
Days later on Sept. 1, Kaepernick proceeded with his new method of protest, kneeling rather than sitting, before the 49ers’ final preseason game. He, along with teammate Eric Reid decided to kneel during the song going forward.
Soon after, the photo of Kaepernick kneeling went viral on social media, stirring local and national attention.
Kaepernick’s protest four years ago came full circle Wednesday as NBA players boycotted the start of their playoff games in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man shot by officers in the back in Wisconsin. Players and coaches across the league expressed disgust on social media with the ongoing mistreatment of Black Americans at the hands of the police.
The league ultimately moved to postpone Wednesday and Thursday’s games. Many are now wondering if the league will return to action given the current climate in America.
“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 an exclusive interview after the game. “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 told media members that day that he was aware of what he was doing and that his actions would be met with backlash.
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” he said. “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 officer who shot Blake has now been identified, according to the Associated Press. Authorities say the officer fired seven shots at Blake.
Video footage of the incident showed Blake walking from the sidewalk around the front of his SUV to his driver-side door as officers follow him with their guns drawn and shout at him. As Blake opens the door and leans into the SUV, an officer grabs his shirt from behind and opens fire while Blake has his back turned. Seven shots can be heard, though it isn’t clear how many struck Blake.
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