The latest development in Colin Kaepernick's protest against racial injustice is not a surprising one. The Santa Clara police union sent a letter to the San Francisco 49ers, "stating that if the organization does not take action against Kaepernick, 'it could result in police officers choosing not to work at your facilities." NBC Bay Area obtained a copy of the letter, and you can see a few more details here.
The union expressed frustration and anger about, “Kaepernick’s comments about police brutality and the San Francisco quarterback's decision to wear socks during practice that depict pigs in police uniforms.” The union said they have a duty to protect their members, and have environments free of harassing behavior.
The police and the 49ers have an extensive relationship, particularly since the team opened Levi’s Stadium. Police officers work security at the stadium, and so that would certainly be a notable issue if the 49ers had to find other options for security.
I get that the police are not pleased with Kaepernick’s comments and opinions regarding police brutality. In his press conference last Sunday, and then again on Thursday, he emphasized his concerns about police brutality. Jennifer Chan transcribed his comments from Thursday. Here are a few excerpts related to the police:
What is the message?
The message is that we have a lot of issues in this country that we need to deal with. We have a lot of people that are oppressed, We have a lot of people that aren’t treated equally, aren’t give equal opportunities. Police Brutality is a huge thing that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of issues that need to be talked about, need to be brought to light, and we need to fix those things.
The San Francisco police department has invited you to come visit the academy, is that something you’re considering?
Yeah, I’m most definitely considering it. The SFPD has had a lot of issues, and I think one of the issues that needs to be addressed are the racist text messages that have been passed back and forth between PD members, not only talking about the community, but also talking about colleagues that work in the same department as them.
The socks that were worn did those not seem negative?
No, that was once again, we have cops that are murdering people. We have cops in the SFPD that are blatantly racist and those issues need to be addressed. I have uncles, I have friends who are cops and I have great respect for them, because they are doing it for the right reason and they genuinely want to protect and help people. That’s not the case with all cops, and the cops that are murdering people, and are racist, are putting other cops in danger, like my family, like my friends. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed.
The discovery of the socks he wore on August 10 raised folks ire on Thursday. Eric Reid spoke to that as well, and said that the socks were worn around the time of a Louisiana shooting involving police. He addressed it in the context of expressing outrage over the incident.
I understand the police are upset by this, but threatening a boycott if Kaepernick is dealt with in some way strikes me as entirely unproductive. It would be considerably more valuable for the Santa Clara police union to reach out to Kaepernick and engage him in a dialogue. We saw the positive things that can come from that, as exemplified by his time with former Green Beret Nate Boyer. The two sides won’t solve all of their issues, but this is a chance to move things forward.
What good comes from issuing threats? Maybe raging a bit will make someone feel better, but why not try and figure out the problems that created the situation, and discuss them. Colin Kaepernick took a significant step in meeting with Boyer, and understanding the value of taking a knee instead of sitting down. Why can’t the Santa Clara police take a step of their own and engage him about ways to improve the relationship between police and people of color?