Kaepernick's Protest Was Meant to Call Out Inequalities in America
He made it clear that it was about enduring racial inequality.
When the quarterback started his protest in August 2016, he was explicit about its cause: ongoing racism in the U.S. "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 told NFL Media in 2016. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way," he said. "There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder." His protest was responding in particular to the racist—and often fatal—treatment of people of color by law enforcement. The month prior, Alton Sterling became the latest Black man shot and killed at the hands of the police. The Louisiana officers involved in the case claimed that Sterling was reaching for a gun when they killed him, but cell phone video shows Sterling was already pinned down. After the incident, Kaepernick spoke out, writing on his Instagram: “This is what lynchings look like in 2016!” He added: “Another murder in the streets because the color of a man’s skin, at the hands of the people who they say will protect us. When will they be held accountable?” The difference in the way law enforcement treats Black and white Americans extends even to players in the NFL themselves. A Georgia police officer choked and body-slammed former NFL player Desmond Marrow when he was already in handcuffs. Retired NFL defensive lineman Matthias Askew was stun gunned in front of his 7-year-old daughter during a routine traffic stop.