More people have joined in the protest. Do you think they should be reprimanded?
Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid kneeled during the national anthem Thursday night, continuing the quarterback’s preseason protest of American racial injustice and minority oppression.
Kaepernick and Reid dropped to one knee while a naval officer sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and dozens of military members unfurled an oversized flag at the Chargers’ Qualcomm Stadium.
Kaepernick and Reid received scattered boos when they dropped to a knee amid a crowd of teammates, but the protest was otherwise unremarked by the San Diego crowd. The 49ers’ visit coincided with the annual Salute to the Military preseason game for the Chargers, who have strong fan support in their city’s extensive armed forces community.
Kaepernick got much heavier boos when he took the field to start the game for the 49ers and immediately led them on a 16-play, 85-yard touchdown drive. The veteran quarterback is attempting to regain the starting job that he lost last season, and he likely helped his cause with a 103-yard passing performance while playing the entire first half in the 49ers’ 31-21 victory over the Chargers.
Kaepernick’s protest has dominated the public discussion of the nation’s most popular sport this week, and his stance has been met with equally passionate condemnation and support. His refusal to stand for the anthem first came to public notice last week when he remained seated on the 49ers’ bench before a preseason game against Green Bay.
When Kaepernick left the field following pregame warmups, he was greeted with profanity and obscene gestures from Leo Uzcategui, a 20-year Navy veteran in a military-green Chargers jersey with quarterback Philip Rivers’ No. 17 in camouflage numbering.
“I was in the Navy and I saw men and women bleed and die for this flag,” Uzcategui said. “If he wants to do something, go to some outreach program where he can do some good. And I get it, his First Amendment right. But you don’t sit during the presenting of the colors, and you don’t sit during the national anthem. That is not the way to do it.”
Domenique Banks, a 23-year-old fan from nearby Oceanside, California, got the quarterback to sign his Kaepernick jersey before the game.
“I told him I appreciate what he is standing up for,” Banks said. “He said he appreciated it. Most of the people I talk to say the same thing. I don’t like that he is sitting during the national anthem, but I appreciate what he is standing for.”
Kaepernick said he had invited teammates to sit with him during the anthem, but didn’t expect any to join him. His invitation apparently was accepted by Reid, the 49ers’ starting safety and a fourth-year veteran from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Reid, who wasn’t in uniform for the game, had been publicly supportive of Kaepernick’s stance.
One sign in the crowd read: “You’re an American. Act like one.”
In Oakland, Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane also sat on the bench behind his standing teammates as the national anthem was performed before Seattle’s game against the Raiders.