Protests supporting Colin Kaepernick planned for NFL’s first week

by Ann Garrison

Broadcast on the KPFA Weekend News, July 13, 2017

KPFA Weekend News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: Little doubt remains that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed by the National Football League for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence against Black people and other people of color. Many quarterbacks with less impressive records have been signed, but Kaepernick still doesn’t have a job. KPFA’s Ann Garrison filed this report.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: One hundred seventy thousand people have signed an online petition pledging to boycott the National Football League unless former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick plays. Civil rights groups have announced a protest in support of Kaepernick outside the NFL offices in New York City on Aug. 23.

Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick take a knee during the national anthem at a 49ers game Sept. 18, 2016. – Photo: Mike McCarn, AP

A #StandingforKaepernick campaign has also scheduled a nationwide protest and boycott at the NFL’s first games. Speaking on TMZ, Chuck D, leader of the rap group Public Enemy, encouraged the protest but also criticized professional sports as an institution:

Chuck D: Think about it. It’s like you have owners and you have players. The fact that somebody owns you makes it a weird dynamic anyway. Y’know they have the choice and right to do whatever they want to do in their own colluded field. But it’s up to the fans to also protest. I don’t think they could land him with a team.

TMZ: You think the protest is kinda futile? You know how I mean?

CD: Yeah, well, the sports teams are owned by owners. Right there that tells you that sports is a crazy ass dynamic. I think every protest needs to be looked at as being warranted with some consciousness, but y’know, look around. If you wanta protest, don’t go to the sports bars, don’t turn the game on, leave your team for a year.

TMZ: You think people are willing to do that? ‘Cause you know how NFL fans are.

CD: Do I think people are willing to do that – in the United States of America???

TMZ: Yeah!

Oakland Raider Marshawn Lynch sat down and even ate a banana during the national anthem at the Raiders first preseason game this year, on Aug. 12, 2017.

CD: The average fan is witness that the country is sports crazy driven as it is. ESPN got like 500 shows. And sports journalists are like superstars these days. So I mean the business of sports has permeated and seeped into the average everyday person where they think it’s a part of their life.

And y’know, I mean we’re not getting on the field, or on the court, or on the ice, or on the diamond, man. We just watching it. So, if you gonna protest on the outside, do your best to connect it to something that’s real.

KPFA: Many eyes are on the response of the players, both Black and White, and some have said that the NFL players union should make an issue of the Kaepernick blackball. Running back and Oakland Raider Marshawn Lynch expressed his support for Kaepernick in a late night show conversation with Conan O’Brien:

Marshawn Lynch: Well, I mean, y’know with what’s going on, y’know I rather see him take a knee than stand up, put his hands up, and get murdered.

So I mean my take on it is (BLEEP), it gotta start somewhere and if that was a starting point, I just hope people open up they eyes to see that it’s really a problem going on and something needs to be done for it to stop. And I mean if you really not racist, then you won’t see what he done, what he’s doing, as a threat to America, but just addressing a problem that we have.

Michael Bennett sat alone on the bench during the national anthem at the Seattle Seahawks first preseason game, on Aug. 12, 2017.
Michael Bennett and Colin Kaepernick talk after a game, on Sept. 25, 2016. Bennett, a defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, says he wishes that the Seahawks had signed Colin Kaepernick and that Kaepernick is being blackballed by NFL. – Photo: Ted S. Warren, AP

KPFA: Lynch, aka Beast Mode, is a star with a bad boy reputation who came out of retirement to play for the Raiders during their last two years in Oakland. He said he wanted to give kids in Oakland a chance to see an Oakland native play for a hometown team.

The protest at the Raiders first home game will take place on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 17, outside the Oakland and Alameda County Coliseum. The protest at the 49ers first home game will take place on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 10, at the 49ers stadium in Santa Clara. Details can be found at

In Berkeley, for Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.