Colin Kaepernick was joined by his San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid and the Seattle Seahawks’ Jeremy Lane in refusing to stand for the national anthem at a preseason football game this week in protest of racial injustice.
During a Thursday, September 1, game, Kaepernick, 28, and Reid, 24, declined to stand up or place their hands over their hearts as “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed. Instead, the two athletes took a knee.
According to the Huffington Post, Kaepernick was heavily booed at the beginning of the game, which happened to coincide with the Salute the Military Night. Right before the 49ers faced off against the San Diego Chargers, 240 marines, sailors and soldiers presented a U.S. flag and retired Navy SEALs performed a pregame parachute jump.
On Thursday, Seahawks cornerback Lane, 26, followed Kaepernick’s example when he didn’t stand up for the national anthem during a game in Oakland, California.
Kaepernick first made headlines for sitting on the sidelines Friday, August 26, before he and his team went head to head with the Green Bay Packers. During an interview with NFL Media, the quarterback — who led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013 — explained his controversial decision not to participate in the patriotic tradition.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said after Friday night’s game. “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.”
Despite criticism, the football champ is maintaining his stance. “I am not looking for approval,” he told NFL Media. “I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. … If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”
Kaepernick, who has pledged to donate $1 million to community organizations, has received lots of support from veterans for taking a stand.
“I’m with @Kaepernick7. I’m a vet. I care about people’s right to take a stand. It makes us better & smarter. #VeteransForKaepernick,” one veteran tweeted August 30, while another wrote: “I took an oath & served, so players on a team I don’t even like could have freedom of speech #VeteransforKaepernick.”
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