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Tag: colin kaepernick

As Sports Protests Spread, Who Will Take The Knee Next?

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

Last year, when LeBron James described some of President Trump's public statements as "laughable and scary," Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham ordered the basketball superstar to "shut up and dribble."

LeBron responded thoughtfully by saying that her comment "resonated with me, but I think it resonated with a lot of people to be able to feel like they can be more."

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Most Americans Now Support Kaepernick’s NFL Protest

A majority of Americans -- now 52 percent -- support NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality targeting black Americans, a Yahoo News/YouGov poll released Thursday showed.

Support for the protests has increased since 2016, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first knelt at a game. At that time, just 28 percent considered them "appropriate," according to Yahoo Sports/YouGov polls.

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Support Criminal Justice Reform? Then You’re with Kaepernick

The most interesting part of Super Bowl LIII wasn’t watching the game; it was seeing the celebrity seas part over former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick’s ostracization from the NFL.

Megastars Cardi B and Rihanna, activist Shaun King, actress Piper Perabo, and award-winning director Ava Duvernay all boycotted the event and indicated their support for the former 49ers quarterback, many tweeting #ImWithKap. It was the usual lineup of the social justice varsity.

Not only have each of those people positioned themselves against police brutality specifically, they’ve aligned themselves with criminal justice reform generally. Kaepernick’s ban from the NFL crystallizes one of the most important aspects of reform, and it’s not simply free speech or the abuse of black bodies. It’s the need for redemption and re-entry.

To me, whether or not you agree with Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality isn’t at issue. The NFL decreed that his taking a knee during the national anthem was wrong, and now Kaepernick’s facing lifetime punishment and lack of employment for that allegedly bad behavior.

It’s no different than the discrimination faced by poorer black men when they have to reveal past bad decisions on job applications by checking the “felony conviction” box. They are being kept out of an economy because they committed an offense.

Michelle Alexander, author of  The New Jim Crow, wrote that the purpose of the modern criminal legal system in the United States is racially motivated social control of black men to create “a lower caste of individuals who are permanently barred by law and custom from mainstream society.” Kap isn’t outside of society at large, but he’s out of the league and he’s being controlled, professionally speaking. The new Jim Crow is Roger Goodell.

It looks like non-celebs are making this issue unnecessarily complicated — and inconsistent.

Seventy-five percent of people polled last winter agreed that the current criminal justice system needs an overhaul because they know that mass incarceration itself is unpatriotic; too many people are locked up. And we economically bully people who’ve broken the law. And, yes, police cross the line sometimes.

Even though his protest is only a fraction of the larger reform agenda they claim to align with, a majority of people surveyed don’t think that Kap’s kneel is appropriate.

Because I’m citing separate surveys, it’s hard to tease out the hypocrites who are calling for reform out of one side of their mouths and screaming “Boycott Nike!” out of the other.

But there’s one easily identifiable person who’s rooting for reform while also sidelining Colin: owner of six-time Super Bowl-winning team the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft.

Just weeks ago, The REFORM Alliance, a new organization formed by rapper Meek Mill and Sixers’ owner Michael Rubin, announced its intention to free 1 million people from correctional control, namely probation and parole.

Motivated by their “collective disgust,” nine founding partners pledged to “leverage (their) considerable resources to change laws, policies, hearts and minds” to achieve reform of oppressive supervision systems. Kraft is one of the nine partners.

To be fair, Kraft is the only NFL team owner to be reported to have said that he thinks Kaepernick should be rehired in the league, so I don’t dismiss the Patriots’ owner as a total pretender.

But I’m not willing to call Kraft a prize, either. Back in September, when reporters asked him if he would hire Kaepernick, Kraft refused to talk about it.

The man who’s raising the sole Super Bowl ring-clad fist to champion rehabilitation and release from social control should let Kaepernick re-enter the NFL on his team; after all, Kap’s still younger than Kraft’s second-string quarterback.

But more than that, keeping Colin Kaepernick out of the league runs headlong into the justice reform movement that Kraft’s trying to advance.

Proper overhaul of the criminal justice system would never include blacklist on anyone’s employment. If you’re in favor of criminal justice reform, then you’re with Kap, too. It’s that simple.

To find out more about Chandra Bozelko and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

#EndorseThis: Dallas Sportscaster Dale Hansen Delivers Bracing Slap To Trump

Here in Trump’s America, where bigotry and stupidity rage unchecked, we’re all too accustomed to judging our fellow citizens by their tribal affiliation, as we’ve seen again in the controversy over athletes “taking a knee” during the national anthem. So you might expect Dale Hansen, a 69 year-old white Dallas TV sportscaster, to fulfill the tired old stereotype. Until you listen to him.

In his latest “Hansen Unplugged” commentary on WFAA/Channel 8, the veteran journalist delivers a bracing rhetorical slap upside the head to the president and his sycophants. Everyone in this country — especially everyone who looks like Hansen — needs to hear what he says about kneeling, race, the flag, and freedom.

#EndorseThis: SNL’s Pete Davidson Explains Why “The NFL Isn’t Really Screwing” Colin Kaepernick

Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson appeared on the standalone summer edition of Weekend Update to monologize about the controversy surrounding unsigned free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to kneel for the national anthem.

“The NFL isn’t really screwing him because he’s controversial,” Davidson explained. “It’s because, to them, he’s not good enough to be controversial. If you’re in the top 20, they let you get away with anything.”

#EndorseThis: Bill Maher Roasts Millennial ‘Friends’ For False Equivalency

If you haven’t seen Bill Maher’s Real Time rant against “false equivalency” in the presidential campaign, here’s another chance because it is not to be missed. Maher laments the political ignorance of voters (and he singles out millennials, hilariously) who refuse to choose between the “evils” of Trump and Clinton; notes that Clinton may be a tiny bit more truthful than “the ultimate straight shooter,” Bernie Sanders; scores a ricochet shot on Colin Kaerpernick via the religious right; and urges clueless voters not to flatter themselves as “cynical,” because “cynical comes when you know too much.”

His eyes are wide open, and he’s with her. Just click.

Police Endorsement of Donald Trump Bodes Ill For Justice

The video footage of the shooting death of Terence Crutcher at the hands of a Tulsa police officer is extremely disturbing and evokes visceral reactions: fear, outrage, panic. In view of the camera, Crutcher is seen walking slowly to his car, his empty hands raised over his head. Without any apparent provocation, he’s gunned down.

I have to exercise mental discipline — making a conscious effort to replace emotion with reason — to remember a simple truth: Not every police officer treats all black men as violent thugs, and not every law enforcement official harbors hidden racial biases that provoke disturbing overreactions.

I know that it’s wrong to assume that all police officers behave like jackbooted storm troopers, just as it’s wrong to believe all black men are criminals-in-waiting. (It’s also wrong to believe that all Black Lives Matter protestors behave like the Charlotte mob, who, angry about the shooting death of another black man at the hands of police, have turned peaceful demonstrations into days and nights of carnage.) Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby, who killed Crutcher, has not been convicted of any crime and is innocent until proven guilty.

That’s all within the bounds of rational thinking. None of us should give in to the dictates of our lizard brains, which continue to pass on judgments from our primal pasts.

That’s why I’m so troubled by the news that the Fraternal Order of Police has given its endorsement to Donald Trump. If police officers want the broad support of the nation — the trust of a diverse citizenry — why in the world would the FOP support Trump?

That’s not one or two or 10 police officers. That’s the nation’s largest police union giving its backing to a man who has lowered the bar for presidential campaigns by insulting Muslims, denigrating Mexicans and questioning the ethics of a federal judge because of his heritage.

Trump doesn’t merely pander to racial prejudices, engaging in the dog-whistles that have been standard for Republican candidates since the 1960s. He has issued full-throated cries of bigotry, starting with his enthusiastic indulgence in “birtherism,” a lie that insists President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. (While Trump renounced birtherism grudgingly in mid-September, he seemed to indicate barely a week later that he only did that so reporters would stop asking him about it.) The claim that Obama is foreign-born has been one of the more patently racist smears by his detractors, an attempt to delegitimize the presidency of the first black man to win the Oval Office.

Certainly, the union has every right to endorse whomever it chooses, and its members have every right to vote accordingly. Police officers tend to be conservative, and the FOP usually endorses the Republican presidential nominee. But that nominee isn’t usually a person who cozies up to Nazi sympathizers. The decision of the overwhelmingly white FOP to endorse him strongly suggests that it agrees with his views. (Some black FOP members have criticized the endorsement.)

(Similarly, the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing 16,500 border patrol agents, cast doubt on its members’ ability to be prudent and fair with its endorsement of Trump in April. It’s hard to imagine union members could protect the rights of immigrants, legal and illegal, when their endorsement suggests a deep well of xenophobia.)

The timing of the FOP’s endorsement could hardly be less fortunate. In communities across the country, relationships between police departments and black citizens are frayed by the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement officers. Police conduct is the subject of not only protests such as those led by the activists of Black Lives Matter, but also dramatic gestures by athletes such as NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

That charged atmosphere cries out for police leaders who project not only authority but also empathy, who appreciate diversity and communicate genuine respect for all citizens. The FOP has done the opposite. Its endorsement plays into the view — widespread in some precincts — that white police officers are waging war on neighborhoods of color.

Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.

High School Football Players Across The U.S. Join Kaepernick, Refuse To Stand For National Anthem

Published with permission from AlterNet.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick declared last month, explaining why he chose not to stand during the national anthem on August 26. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Since Kaepernick spoke these words, his protest has caught fire across the country, with NFL players from Miami to Seattle to Boston showing solidarity by kneeling or raising their fists in the air during the song. Meanwhile, players from other sports have joined in, with soccer star Megan Rapinoe kneeling during the national anthem, telling American Soccer Now that the gesture was “a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now.”

But getting far less attention are the high school football players across the United States, who, inspired by Kaepernick, are refusing to stand during the national anthem to protest racism and inequality. Many of those leading the protests are black and brown students who have grown up with images of young people who look like them being shot and killed by police.

Coaches and most members of the South Jersey Tigers high school football team, Woodrow Wilson, knelt during the national anthem on Saturday. “I am well aware of the third verse of the national anthem which is not usually sung, and I know that the words of the song were not originally meant to include people like me,” Tigers coach Preston Brown told NBC 10 on Saturday.

The third stanza states, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” As the Intercept’s Jon Schwartz pointed out, Francis Scott Key wrote those words during the war of 1812, in direct reference to U.S. slaves who fought for the British, “who accepted everyone and pledged no one would be given back to their ‘owners.’” Schwartz continues: “So when Key penned ‘No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,’ he was taking great satisfaction in the death of slaves who’d freed themselves. His perspective may have been affected by the fact he owned several slaves himself.”

The Tigers’ protest is captured in the following video:

On Friday, numerous players for Watkins Mills High in Montgomery County, Maryland also kneeled during the national anthem. “We just wanted to make a statement that America is not what you think it is,” said junior quarterback Markel Grant.

Players from Maury High in Norfolk, Virginia to Auburn High in Rockford, Illinois have taken similar action. While these young people are certainly not the first to use their roles as athletes to protest racism and injustice in the United States, they are part of a fresh wave of resistance amid the ongoing movement for Black Lives Matter led by young people in cities and towns across the U.S. In some cases, individual players are making the decision to stage small protests of one or two, as in the case of Lincoln, Nebraska player Sterling Smith, highlighted in thisnews report.

Rodney Axson, a high school player at Brunswick High School in Ohio, reportedlydecided to kneel during the national anthem after he witnessed his teammates using racial slurs to degrade opposing players. The 16-year-old says he faced severe backlash as a result, including anti-black racial epithets.

Unfortunately, Axson’s case is not an isolated one. According to a local media report, the announcer for a Friday football game at McKenzie High School in Alabama’s Butler County suggested that those who do not stand for the national anthem deserve to be shot. “If you don’t want to stand for the national anthem, you can line up over there by the fence and let our military personnel take a few shots at you since they’re taking shots for you,” said the announcer, Pastor Allen Joyner of Sweet Home Baptist Church.

Mike Oppong, a player for Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, Mass.,says he was initially suspended for a game for refusing to stand during the national anthem, but this punishment was revoked after public outcry. He told reporters, “We are disrespected and mistreated everywhere we go on a daily basis because of our skin color, and I’m sick of it.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.

Photo: Screenshot.