At the vanguard of debate about racial inequality in recent weeks, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick says he has received death threats for making his views known.
Kaepernick has refused to stand for the “Star Spangled Banner” before NFL games, instead sitting or taking a knee, to protest against what he has described as racist police practice and the continued oppression of black people in America.
The death threats have come from a “couple of different avenues” including social media Kaepernick told reporters Tuesday, in comments carried by CSN Bay Area.
When asked about whether somebody were to act upon the specific threats made towards him, Kapaernick said “it will be loud and clear for everyone why it happened, and that would move this movement forward at a greater speed than what it is even now.”
“There’s a lot of racism disguised as patriotism in this country. And people don’t like to address that. And they don’t like to address what the root of this protest is,” he added
Kaepernick has spoken passionately in the past of what he views as the not always positive attitudes of law enforcement agencies towards minorities in America.
This was an issue Kaepernick touched upon again Tuesday in discussing the death of Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, who was gunned down by police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Friday. “That’s a perfect example of what this is about. I think it’ll be very telling what happens with the officer that killed him,” Kaepernick said.
Kaepernick reiterated that tragic events such as these were the reason he decided to start his protest. “I find it very hard that people don’t understand what’s going on. I think the message has been out there loud and clear for quite some time now.”
In recent weeks numerous American sports stars have shown solidarity with Kaepernick by kneeling during the US anthem, which is played in stadiums before most major sporting events.
Kaepernick’s 49rs teammate Eric Reid has knelt by his side while LA players, Kenny Britt and Robert Quinn, raised their fists during the Star Spangled Banner as the NFL season began.
Since then, US women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe has joined in the protest and Kaepernick’s 49ers teammates Antoine Bethea, Eli Harold, Jaquiski Tartt and Rashard Robinson also took to raising their fists as the anthem played before Sunday’s match against the Carolina Panthers.
Miami Dolphins players, Arian Foster, Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas, also took a knee before their game at the New England Patriots Gillette Stadium this weekend.
The Miami Herald reported last week that the union which represents local sheriff’s deputies was asking for team-sponsored police escorts to stop until the Dolphins had forced all players to stand during the anthem.
Meanwhile, a Texas youth football team revealed they were receiving death threats for showing their support for Kapernick’s gesture by kneeling during the national anthem last week.
Numerous high school sports teams have developed their own version of the protest.
While Kaepernick’s protest has gained support in some quarters, it has caused outrage in others.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, called for Kaepernick to leave the country while former presidential candidate and Republican senator, Ted Cruz, condemned protesting athletes.
“To all the athletes who have made millions in America’s freedom: stop insulting our flag, our nation, our heroes,” the former Republican presidential contender tweeted earlier in September.
Kaepernick has announced an action plan for the money he pledged to donate to charity and foundations.
The quarterback says he’ll set up a website that will document where his monthly $100,000 is spent so that “I’m transparent in what I’m doing but that these organizations are transparent with where the money is going as well.”