President-elect Donald Trump tweeted this week that people burn the American flag should be subjected to some form of punishment, such as prison time or loss of citizenship. The Supreme Court has ruled that flag-burning was protected as a form of “symbolic speech.”
Colin Kaepernick, who comes to Soldier Field next Sunday to face the Bears, elected this season to express his concern about what he called “systematic oppression” by not standing for the national anthem before games. Is the San Francisco 49ers quarterback concerned that the incoming Administration may look to punish anthem-sitters?
“No, I’m not concerned about that at all,” Kaepernick said via conference call on Wednesday. “To me, if things go down that path, those are human-rights issues. Patriotism is earned; it’s not something you demand. For me, I don’t see those as issues. I’ll continue on my path as I have planned.”
Kaepernick began his sitting protest during San Francisco preseason games last August. It ignited a national firestorm because it was viewed as anti-police, a protest against police violence.
But for Kaepernick, it was never a police issue.
“I’ve been very clear from the beginning that I’m against systematic oppression,” Kaepernick said. “Police violence is just one of the symptoms of that oppression. For me that is something that needs to be addressed but it’s not the whole issue.”
Kaepernick said he has been in touch with groups and individuals in Chicago, which has been plagued with gun violence in general. The goal is to support those groups trying to effect change and that has been Kaepernick’s end game as well, he said.
“For me, I want to try help create change and also help empower other people, other organizations, that are doing the work to continue to do the work, and people that aren’t, to get involved to help create that change,” Kaepernick said. “Because this isn’t something that’s going to be changed by one person or a couple of people. It’s going to take communities coming together and creating the change that needs to be made, and the country coming together.”