Officers at the Santa Clara Police Department are threatening to boycott their jobs as security personnel at San Francisco 49ers games if the team doesn’t punish quarterback Colin Kaepernick for his protest of police brutality.
“Unfortunately, some recent actions by a 49ers employee have threatened our harmonious working relationship,” the union’s letter said, referring to Kaepernick’s decision to remain seated during the national anthem. “Your employee then insinuated that police officers are being placed on paid leave for murdering minorities. This statement is obviously insulting, inaccurate and completely unsupported by any facts.”
The statement, which was signed by the Santa Clara Police Officers Association (SCPOA) Board of Directors, said that if the 49ers don’t take actions to stop Kaepernick’s protests, officers might boycott 49ers games.
“I’m already hearing it this week that next week on Monday Night Football, some officers are not going to work,” said Frank Saunders, the SCPOA president, told NBC Bay Area.
This all began last Friday night, when the 49ers quarterback remained seated during the national anthem in a preseason NFL game, saying later that he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
This week during practice, Kaepernick was photographed wearing socks featuring pigs in police uniforms. On Thursday during the 49ers preseason game against the San Diego Chargers, Kaepernick’s protest of the anthem continued. Two other players joined him — his teammate, Eric Reid, and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane.
Some on social media are pointing out the hypocrisy of the SCPOA’s statement.
If the Santa Clara Police Union–or ANY police union–won’t serve the public because they’re now against free speech, they should be fired.
— MovieJay (@MovieJay) September 3, 2016
To the Einstein in Santa Clara Police Union responsible for PR: the right move woulda been to say “We stand against police brutality too.”
— Harvey Jenkins MD (@bodysculptorokc) September 3, 2016
I don’t think the Santa Clara Police Union has read the PD’s own code of ethics. pic.twitter.com/Ge54urVmQs
— Mike Beauvais (@MikeBeauvais) September 3, 2016
Approximately 70 SCPD officers volunteer for the paid security jobs at Levi’s Stadium for 49ers games. The SCPD officers make up 2/3 of the officers at the game, and the remaining personnel come from other Bay Area police departments.
While the police union is pressuring the 49ers organization to discipline Kaepernick, so far the team has stood behind him.
“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,” the team said.
There has been extensive national debates over Kaepernick’s actions in the past week, and the quarterback has been working to get the conversation back on track.
Many have called Kaepernick’s actions unpatriotic or anti-military. So on Thursday’s game against the Chargers, which happened to be Military Night, Kaepernick and his teammate Reid took a knee during the nation anthem as a way to show his appreciation for the forces.
“We were talking to [Nate Boyer, a former U.S. Army Green Beret and NFL long snapper] about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from pride in our country but keep the focus on what the issues really are,” Kaepernick said. “As we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee because there are issues that still need to be addressed and there was also a way to show more respect for the men and women that fight for this country.”
After he was photographed in the pig socks, Kaepernick issued a statement on Instagram saying that he has worn these socks before, and that they are directed specifically at “rogue cops.”
Most notably, Kaepernick announced this week that he was going to donate $1 million to charities that fight police brutality and racial injustices.
“I’ve been very blessed to be in this position and to be able to make the kind of money that I do and I have to help these people,’’ Kaepernick said. “I have to help these communities. It’s not right that they’re not put in the position to succeed or given those opportunities to success.’’
While he knelt during the national anthem, he stood and applauded during the singing of God Bless America on Thursday.
“I’m not anti-American,’’ he told reporters. “I love America.”