By John Lillpop:
San Francisco 49ers football player Colin Kaepernick created a firestorm recently when he refused to stand during the playing of the National Anthem. He added to the widespread outrage when he explained his action with this dilly:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said in an interview with NFL Media afterwards. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick’s protest prompted a response from authorities in Santa Clara, California which if implemented, could actually impact the safety of innocent fans attending home games of the 49ers.
Authorities in Northern California have threatened to stop working San Francisco 49ers games in response to Colin Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial injustice.
In a letter obtained by KNTV, the Santa Clara police union told the 49ers organization that officers wouldn’t work at the stadium if it doesn’t “take action” against Kaepernick over his protest. The station noted that about 70 Santa Clara police officers work eight home games per year.
“The board of directors of the Santa Clara Police Officer’s Association has a duty to protect its members and work to make all of their workings environments free of harassing behavior,” the letter added.
Kaepernick’s decision to sit for the national anthem and to wear socks in practice depicting pigs as cops has drawn much scrutiny from the Santa Clara officers. Police said they are angered and frustrated with the 6-year veteran.
His protest continued Thursday night when he decided to kneel for the national anthem in San Diego during the Chargers’ Salute to the Military. He was joined by defensive back Eric Reed in his protest.
While Kaepernick has a legitimate right to free speech expression of his opinions, regardless of how absurd and distorted, he does not have a right to endanger the well-being and safety of tens of thousands of innocent sports fans, any more than screaming FIRE! in a crowded theater is protected speech.
By the same token, the threat by the Santa Clara Police Officer’s Association to boycott 49ers games seems extreme and irresponsible.
After all, the police have a solemn duty to protect the safety of the public; a responsibility that cannot be abandoned based on foolish words or actions advanced by a pampered, clueless athlete!
The solution? Police authorities and NFL management must come together to work out a plan that will keep the public safe while respecting Colin Kaepernick’s free speech rights— quite doable if the parties honor the public’s desire for more football and less political posturing!
© Copyright by John W. Lillpop, 2016. All rights reserved.