More than 1,000 protestors rallied today at the National Football League's Park Ave. headquarters to support former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who they claim is being blackballed for his protest against police brutality and oppression of black people.
The Super Bowl quarterback strode into the national spotlight in 2016 by taking a knee during the pre-game playing of the national anthem. Critics blasted Kaepernick for injecting politics into sports and disrespecting the flag.
Shouting, “Boycott! Boycott!” today's United We Stand protestors—many wearing Kaepernick’s old jersey, believe the free agent is being punished for his political activity.
The NAACP has requested a meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the “league-wide set of retaliatory actions against quarterback Colin Kaepernick for exercising his First Amendment rights.”
Derrick Johnson, interim CEO of the NAACP, wrote in a letter to Goodell: “Last season, Mr Kaepernick chose to exercise his First Amendment rights by protesting the inequitable treatment of people of color in America. By quietly taking a knee during the national anthem, he was able to shine a light on the many injustices, particularly the disproportionate occurrences of police misconduct toward communities of color.”
Johnson noted that “act of dissent” was well within the NFL guidelines. He wants to establish a dialog with Goodell or other members of the NFL leadership “who have a vested interest in preserving the league’s integrity.”
Meanwhile, Kaepernick is gaining support among NFL players. More than a dozen Cleveland Browns kneeled during the playing of the national anthem before Monday night’s game against the New York Giants. It was NFL’s largest protest in support of the unemployed quarterback.