Colin Kaepernick has suggested that he will need to see significant progress toward improving social justice and racial equality before he considers ending his national anthem protest.
The San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback initially sat and then kneeled when The Star-Spangled Banner was played before preseason games. He took a knee again ahead of the team’s regular-season opener Monday night.
“I don’t want to kneel forever. I want these things to change. I do know it will be a process, and it is not something that will change overnight. But I think there are some major changes that we can make that are very reasonable.”
Kaepernick has become the figurehead for a growing movement around the league and admitted he can foresee a situation whereby he ends his protest, but only if he feels it has had the desired effect.
“I don’t want to kneel forever,” he said. “I want these things to change. I do know it will be a process, and it is not something that will change overnight. But I think there are some major changes that we can make that are very reasonable.”
Kaepernick said he has held discussions with human rights lawyers and community activists in recent weeks in a bid to educate himself and to ensure that his message is communicated in the right way. He expects to reveal a list of desired policy changes once those discussions have evolved further but admitted that in the short term, he had been greatly encouraged by similar shows of support from members of other NFL teams.
Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks stood with linked arms during the anthem, while four members of the Miami Dolphins took a knee. Players from various teams raised a fist either following or during the anthem.
“It has been amazing,” Kaepernick said. “I think people that have known this issue is going on just didn’t quite know how to express it and bring attention to it. Now that the conversation is there, they support it, and they want to let people know they are supporting it and trying to bring awareness and do things to eliminate that issue.”
Kaepernick said that his approach to fighting police brutality had largely been formed by reading about a series of high-profile cases involving the death of black people following clashes with police, such as Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott and Eric Garner. He also highlighted another case, that of Terrence Sterling, an African-American man from Washington who was shot to death last weekend.
“The list goes on and on and on,” Kaepernick said. “At what point do we do something about it? At what point do we take a stand and as a people say this isn’t right?
“(The police) have a badge, yes. But you are supposed to be protecting us, not murdering us. That is what the issue is, and we need to change that.
“Terrence Sterling … an unarmed black man once again. It has become habitual. It is an issue that needs to be addressed, because it continues to happen, and every time it is ‘administrative leave’ (as the punishment). That is not right. That is the issue that needs to be addressed, and policies need to be addressed to change that.”
Follow Martin Rogers on Twitter @mrogersUSAT