SANTA CLARA (CBSLA.com) — Some fans this weekend were burning jerseys days after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was spotted sitting during the national anthem.
The move by Kaepernick Friday before the Niners played the Green Bay Packers had some calling the sit-out “disrespectful,” while the 28-year-old football star explained it was an act of conscience.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL media. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
His coach, Chip Kelly, told reporters: “He recognized his right to do that. It’s not my right to tell him not to do something. That’s his right as a citizen.”
But fans in the Bay Area and in LA are weighing in:
“Disrespecting the national anthem, I don’t think there’s any excuse for that,” said Steven Carval, a football fan. “If you don’t like our country, than get the hell out.”
“The fact that people are taking a stand by sitting down during the national anthem is a very powerful thing and I applaud him for that. Why? Because it needs to be taken notice that this is something that happens to young African Americans, young Mexican Americans, Asian Americans,” said Matt Day, another fan.
Kaepernick, who is bi-racial, said he expected backlash, but has sparked a debate that goes beyond the end-zone.
Meanwhile, the NFL also issued a statement, saying that players are encouraged, but aren’t required to stand for the national anthem.