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Kaepernick stance for justice gets mixed reactions

JANIE McCAULEY | 9/6/2016, 12:25 p.m.
Letting his hair go au naturel and sprinting between drills as usual, Colin Kaepernick took the field Sunday with the ...
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, in Santa Clara, California, Aug. 26. Tony Avelar

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) – Letting his hair go au naturel and sprinting between drills as usual, Colin Kaepernick took the field Sunday with the San Francisco 49ers as his stance against standing for the national anthem drew chatter across NFL camps.

“I’m going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed,” Kaepernick said Sunday at his locker. “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, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

He insisted whatever the consequences, he would know “I did what’s right.” He said he hasn’t heard from the NFL or anyone else about his actions and it won’t matter if he does.

“No one’s tried to quiet me and, to be honest, it’s not something I’m going to be quiet about,” he said. “I’m going to speak the truth when I’m asked about it. This isn’t for look. This isn’t for publicity or anything like that. This is for people that don’t have the voice. And this is for people that are being oppressed and need to have equal opportunities to be successful. To provide for families and not live in poor circumstances.”

Kaepernick criticized presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, calling the former “openly racist;” called out police brutality against minorities; and pushed for accountability of public officials.

“You can become a cop in six months and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist,” Kaepernick said. “That’s insane. Someone that’s holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people that have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.”

In college at Nevada, Kaepernick said, police were called one day “because we were the only Black people in that neighborhood.” Officers entered without knocking and drew guns on him and his teammates and roommates as they were moving their belongings, said Kaepernick, whose adoptive parents are Caucasian.

He said his stand is not against men and women in the military fighting and losing their lives for Americans’ rights and freedoms.

“There’s a lot of things that need to change. One specifically? Police brutality,” said Kaepernick. “There’s people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. People are being given paid leave for killing people. That’s not right. That’s not right by anyone’s standards.”

Two days after he refused to stand for the The Star Spangled Banner before the 49ers’ preseason loss to the Packers, Kaepernick stopped briefly on a side field to talk with Dr. Harry Edwards and they shared a quick embrace before the quarterback grabbed his helmet and took the field.

Edwards is a sociologist and African American activist who helped plan the “Olympic Project for Human Rights” before the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, where U.S. sprinters and medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads through the anthem on the medal podium in their Black power protest.