Activism

Protesters Flock to the NFL's NYC Headquarters in Solidarity With Colin Kaepernick

The former 49ers football player remains unsigned after his public protest.

Photo Credit: YouTube/Fox

People have traveled from far and wide to rally in front of NFL headquarters in New York City to support former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and to protest the uncertainty of his future in football. 

During the 2016 preseason games, Kaepernick refused to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” in protest of police brutality.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” Kaepernick told NFL media. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

By the end of the preseason, Kaepernick was kneeling instead of sitting the national anthem out—in respect, he said, to those who have served in the U.S. military. His decision started a movement across the NFL and other sporting industries, with various other athletes choosing to kneel or raise their fists in the black power salute. 

All the while, Kaepernick received widespread criticism for his stance, some against bringing politics into sports and others against the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole. Kaepernick was voted most disliked player in the NFL, with 37 percent of white people disliking him “a lot,” according to ESPN. Nevertheless, he had the top-selling jersey in the NFL following the preseason controversy.

In March, Kaepernick opted out of a new six-year contract with the 49ers, his team since 2011. Since then, he has remained unsigned. Commentators believe this is due to the movement he started. However, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell claims Kaepernick is not being blackballed by the league.

"The message of Kaepernick’s protest isn’t just that we live in an unjust society, but that there’s a high price for speaking out,” Rann Miller wrote on AlterNet.

Sports commentators believe it is unlikely that Kaepernick will be signed unless another quarterback in the league falls ill or is injured.

A dozen groups including Justice League NYC and Color of Change organized the rally, gathering outside NFL headquarters to stand in solidarity with Kaepernick. 

“All [Kaepernick] did was say that getting shot down in the streets, unarmed, is wrong,” one protester told CNN. “And what did they do? He was ‘white-balled.’”

If Kaepernick remains unsigned, protesters plan on hitting the NFL where it hurts—its ad revenue. They plan to boycott the league by removing Nielsen boxes, attending games and purchasing merchandise.

“If Colin can take a knee for social justice, we can stand behind him for social justice."

Jennie Neufeld is an intern at Salon, formerly a junior writing fellow at AlterNet. 

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