Hundreds of protestors gathered outside of the NFL’s headquarters in New York City on Wednesday night to show their support for former San Francisco 49ers QB, Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick, who lead his team to the Super Bowl in 2013, drew criticism last year for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against men and women of color. The former NFL super star has yet to be signed by a team this season, which leads many to believe that he is being blackballed by the league because of his political stance rather than his ability to play the game.
Large crowds gathered in Manhattan wearing Kaepernick jerseys with some holding signs reading, “Black Lives Matter” and others calling for a boycott of the NFL altogether. “We know that Kaep has been taking a knee for reverence and the memory for those who have lost their lives to the police,” said radio host Mark Thompson during the rally. “Others are now taking a knee and sitting down for all the victims of white supremacy and white nationalism – even white players are doing it now.”
According to NBCnews.com, the NAACP sent a letter requesting a meeting with the NFL to discuss the issue of free speech and Kaepernick’s position. In the letter, NAACP interim President and CEO, Derrick Johnson, wrote, “Last season, Mr. Kaepernick chose to exercise his first amendment right by protesting the inequitable treatment of people of color in America. By quietly taking a knee during the national anthem, he was able to shine a light on the many injustices faced by people of color, particularly the issue of police misconduct toward communities of color.” It’s reported that the NFL declined that meeting ahead of the rally.
Kaepernick has gained massive support nationwide for taking a stand in such a high profile position with some even calling him the “modern day Muhammad Ali,” who famously refused to serve in the Vietnam War in protest for racial injustice. While Colin Kaepernick risked his position to stand for the rights of others, it only seems natural that the community in which he fights for stands for his rights as well.