San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has defended his decision to sit during the playing of the national anthem, saying Sunday he has no plans of stopping his silent protest.
“I’ll continue to sit. I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed,” he said in an interview with ESPN. “To me, this is something that has to change.”
Kaepernick refused to stand with his teammates during the singing of the national anthem on Friday, telling an NFL interviewer that he would not “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” and showing solidarity with Americans who have called for more police accountability.
The league has said that although players are encouraged to stand for the national anthem, it is not required. The quarterback has received criticism for his actions, with former teammate and Minnesota Vikings guard Alex Boone saying Kaepernick’s actions were disrespectful to veterans.
“That flag obviously gives [Kaepernick] the right to do whatever he wants. I understand it. At the same time, you should have some… respect for people who served, especially people that lost their life to protect our freedom,” he told USA Today.
In the interview with ESPN, Kaepernick said he has “great respect” for the men and women who have served, but said the freedoms they are fighting for are not being realized by everyone in America.
“They fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice, for everyone. That’s not happening,” Kaepernick said. “People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up, as far as giving freedom and justice, liberty to everybody.”