San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick spoke with the media today for about 20 minutes, answering numerous questions about his decision to refuse to stand during the U.S. national anthem before Friday’s preseason game. (Kaepernick also refused to stand for the national anthem before the first two preseason games, but he wasn’t dressed to play and nobody noticed.) Yesterday he told NFL.com that he was protesting because “there are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Today he expanded on his stance.
The first hint that Kaepernick was developing a public political identity came last December, when he began posting criticisms of Donald Trump and his call to ban immigrants from entering the country. His answers to about 30 questions this evening—you can read the full transcript here—demonstrate clearly that this protest is something that has been building up for awhile.
Here are a couple of his more interesting answers:
Do you personally feel oppressed?
CK: There have been situations where I feel like I’ve been ill-treated, yes. This stand wasn’t for me. This stand wasn’t because I feel like I’m being put down in any kind of way. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice, people that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard, and effect change. So I’m in the position where I can do that and I’m going to do that for people that can’t.
Are you concerned that this can be seen as a blanket indictment of law enforcement in general?
CK: There is police brutality. People of color have been targeted by police. So that’s a large part of it and they’re government officials. They are put in place by the government. So that’s something that this country has to change. There’s things we can do to hold them more accountable. Make those standards higher. You have people that practice law and are lawyers and go to school for eight years, but you can become a cop in six months and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. That’s insane. Someone that’s holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people that have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.
(In Washington D.C., for instance, where I live, it takes 1,500 hours to get a cosmetology license, and 28 weeks to complete the police academy.)
Do you want to expand on that?
CK: You have Hillary who has called black teens or black kids super predators, you have Donald Trump who’s openly racist. We have a presidential candidate who has deleted emails and done things illegally and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me because if that was any other person you’d be in prison. So, what is this country really standing for?
What would be a success?
CK: That’s a tough question because there’s a lot of things that need to change, a lot of different issues that need to be addressed. That’s something that it’s really hard to lock down one specific thing that needs to change currently.
Kaepernick was asked a few questions about the 49ers and his teammates, and it seems as if his teammates, if not necessarily agreeing with his protest, at least respect his right to conduct one. Daniel Kilgore, Torrey Smith, Shaun Draughn, and former teammate Anquan Boldin all voiced support for Kaepernick.
You can read the full transcript here.