Ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is raising money for defense lawyers to represent people arrested while protesting in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd's death.
Kaepernick announced the formation of the Know Your Rights Camp Legal Defense Initiative on his Instagram page Friday. The initiative "has identified and teamed up with top defense lawyers" in Minneapolis to offer legal assistance for protestors, according to the organization's website. Kaepernick's Know Your Rights Camp will fund the initiative, and is accepting donations at the same link that users can request legal support.
"When there is an injustice within our community, it is our legal right to address it, by any means necessary," the group's website said.
Formed soon after he began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality against African Americans, Kaepernick's Know Your Rights Camp has a self-stated mission of advancing "the liberation and well-being of black and brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization" and creating "new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders." Kaepernick previously donated $1 million to social-justice organizations as part of a pledge made during the 2016 season.
Kaepernick's protest earned renewed attention following Floyd's death. Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died Monday while in police custody, and bystanders recorded video of now-former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin putting his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes while Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe. Chauvin, who is white, and three other police officers were fired Tuesday.
Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman announced Chauvin was arrested Friday on charges of manslaughter and third-degree murder, and state charging documents allege Chauvin's knee was pressed on Floyd's neck for nearly three minutes after he became non-responsive. Freeman said the other officers also could face charges.
Protesters demonstrated in the Twin Cities for each of the last three days, with some turning violent Thursday night as demonstrators set fire to the fired officers' former precinct. Floyd's death sparked outrage and criticism nationwide, and Kaepernick tweeted Thursday that "[we] have the right to fight back!" Others, including Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, highlighted the visual similarity between Kaepernick kneeling before games and Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck to recall why Kaepernick protested in the first place.
[RELATED: Stephen Jackson calls for justice for 'twin' Floyd in press conference]
The 2016 season was Kaepernick's last with the 49ers and, as of this writing, his last in the NFL. Kaepernick has not been signed since opting out of his contract ahead of the 2017 offseason. He alleged that the league's owners conspired to keep him out of the league because of his protest, but Kaepernick ultimately settled a collusion lawsuit with the league last year.
The NFL organized a workout for Kaepernick, who has insisted he still wants to play football amid whispers to the contrary, at the Atlanta Falcons' facility last fall. Kaepernick moved it to a high school just outside of Atlanta after the league barred media access and his lawyers deemed a waiver "unusual," but he didn't receive any offers from teams. Ex-49ers QB Alex Smith and former coach Jim Harbaugh, two of Kaepernick's colleagues during his six seasons with the 49ers, intimated in separate interviews earlier this month that Kaepernick is good enough to have an NFL job.
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