49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has explained his decision to not stand for the national anthem by pointing to the actions of certain police officers toward African-Americans and other persons of color. On Monday, the San Francisco Police Officers Association responded with a letter that criticizes Kaepernick for his views and asks his team and the league to apologize.
The letter, sent to 49ers owner Jed York and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, calls Kaepernick’s comments “ill-advised” and explains that the police officers “will not stand by while he attacks police officers in this country with statements such as, ‘People are on paid leave while people of color are killed.'”
The letter, signed by SFPOA president Martin Halloran, accuses Kaepernick of “an incredible lack of knowledge regarding our profession” and a “total lack of sensitivity towards police officer.”
“Ironically it is those officers who on numerous occasions have protected Mr. Kaepernick and have ensured that the venue where the NFL holds its events are fully protected,” Halloran writes.
“I only wish Mr. Kaepernick could see the emotional and psychological challenges that our officers face following a fatal encounter. Some are so affected they never return to the streets. In short, Mr. Kaepernick has embarrassed himself, the 49ers organization, and the NFL based on a false narrative and misinformation that lacks any factual basis.”
Halloran then points out that 40 police officers have been murdered in recent months, and that more than 100,000 law-enforcement officers have been assaulted in the past year. Halloran also cites “over 8,000 murders that African Americans have inflicted on one another in 2015.”
“The law enforcement community cannot be continuously blamed for all of society’s problems, including racial divide, in our country,” Halloran writes. “It isn’t fair and it isn’t true.”
Halloran specifically asks York and Goodell to “denounce [Kaepernick’s] foolish statements and separate yourself” from Kaepernick’s words and actions. Halloran also invites Kaepernick to visit the San Francisco Police Department Academy “and partake in any of the simulations that recruits participate in during their training.”
Ultimately, Halloran asks the 49ers and the NFL “to do the right thing and at least apologize to the many police officers Mr. Kaepernick has disrespected for no apparent reason.”
Halloran’s letter doesn’t address the various, well-publicized incidents from recent months and years involving apparently unnecessary violence against minority citizens; that’s the gist of Kaepernick’s criticism. Halloran also doesn’t specifically address Kaepernick’s claim that people holding a “curling iron” have more training than those on the front lines of American law enforcement, charged with making life-and-death decisions in the heat of the moment.
While Halloran and any other police officer have the right to disagree with Kaepernick, he didn’t seem to be targeting the entire profession. His concern is that the system, as designed, creates situations in which some people with minimal training and experience enter challenging situations with a badge and a gun but perhaps an insufficient plan for how to most responsibly use either one.