The NFL quarterback says he needs to see "significant change" before he'll stand during the "Star-Spangled Banner"
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who has sat during the “Star-Spangled Banner” in all three of his team’s preseason games, told reporters he will refuse to stand until there is a “significant change” in the oppression of people due to their race in the United States.
“I’ll continue to sit. I’m gonna continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed,” Kaepernick said Sunday. “To me, this is something that has to change. When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent and this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
Kaepernick cited police brutality as one of the ways African-Americans and other minorities are being mistreated in the country.
“There’s people being murdered unjustly and [people are] not being held accountable,” he said. “Cops are getting paid leave for killing people. That’s not right. That’s not right by anyone’s standards.”
Kaepernick has been outspoken on social media about similar issues, providing his 845,000 Twitter followers and 1.3 million Instagram followers with daily updates about racial injustices.
While his decision not to participate in the tradition caused many to criticize the player, the NFL does not require players stand for the anthem, NFL Media reports.
“This is not something that I am going to run by anybody,” Kaepernick told the outlet. “I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. If they take football away, my endorsements from me – I know that I stood up for what is right.”
The 49ers also supported his move in a statement, according to ESPN.
“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pregame ceremony,” the team said in a statement. “It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens.
“In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”
Kaepernick said Sunday, “This country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all – and it’s not happening for all right now.”