Many current and retired officers of the New York Police Department rallied on Saturday morning in support of Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers player both celebrated and criticized for refusing to stand during the national anthem.
Organized by Sgt. Edwin Raymond, the Brooklyn Bridge Park demonstration brought out about 80 officers, all wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with “#IMWITHKAP.”
“What Colin Kaepernick did is try to bring awareness that this nation unfortunately has ignored for far too long,” said Raymond, according to the New York Daily News. “And that’s the issue of racism in America and policing in America. We decided to gather here today because of the way he’s being railroaded for speaking the obvious truth.”
It all began last season when Kaepernick, 29, began to take a knee (or sit) during the national anthem, saying he was protesting violence against minorities, particularly by the police. Shortly after, other players began to follow suit and a year later are still sitting, kneeling or raising a fist during the anthem. This week, two White players showed true camaraderie for their Black teammates during their anthem protests. Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long put an arm around safety Malcolm Jenkins as he raised his fist. Meanwhile, Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman Justin Britt kept a hand on defensive end Michael Bennett’s shoulder as he took a seat during the anthem.
According to Raymond, while he planned the rally before the events in Charlottesville, Virginia that led to the death of Heather Heyer, the violence made it clear the issue needed to be raised sooner than later: noting that a frequent criticism of Kaepernick has been that his protest was offensive to law enforcement, The New York Times reports. “They said he disrespected law enforcement,” Raymond said. “Well, I’m law enforcement, and he didn’t disrespect me.”
Oddly enough, Raymond and those officers who showed Kaepernick support this weekend have now become targets. “My NYPD friends who held a press conference for Colin Kaepernick and against police brutality today are getting death threats,” tweeted Shaun King, a senior justice writer at the New York Daily News.
What are your thoughts on the NYPD taking a stand in favor of Kaepernick? Sound off in the comment section below.