It’s still been less than a month since 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the national anthem was first noticed. The story continues to linger and grow, with more and more players joining in the demonstrations, which primarily arise from concerns raised by Kaepernick about police misconduct against African-Americans and people of color.
On Sunday, the Fritz Pollard Alliance issued a statement supporting the players who choose not to stand at attention for the anthem.
“While Americans of all races and from all walks of life have expressed different opinions on the athletes’ chosen form of protest, nobody who believes in the foundational ideals of our democracy can question their right to protest,” Chairman John Wooten and Executive Director Harry Carson said in a statement. “We support their right to protest, and if we were still playing today, we would be joining them.”
Wooten and Carson point out that the effort has been successful, to date.
“Colin Kaepernick has forced a national conversation, and good is coming from it — whether it’s the 49ers Foundation contributing $1 million to improve relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve, or the Green Bay Packers donating several hundred thousand dollars to community organizations,” Wooten and Carson said. “More than the monetary impact, though, minds are opening, views are being exchanged, and perspectives are changing.”
Wooten and Carson note that Kaepernick changed his own position, opting to kneel rather than to sit after having a conversation with former Green Beret Nate Boyer. Likewise, Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall spent time with Denver Chief of Police Robert White to discus police and community relations.
“Conversations such as the one between Kaepernick and Boyer and the one between Marshall and White — people from different backgrounds with different strongly held beliefs — are what make America great,” Wooten and Carson said. “And sometimes it takes protest that some find uncomfortable to spark those conversations. This is freedom. This is democracy. It is at the core of the nation we love.”
The demonstrations during the anthem are expected to continue this week. They could grow even more, given that last Sunday’s games coincided with the 15th anniversary of 9/11, prompting some to choose to refrain from siting or kneeling on that day.