Drama and controversy continue to swirl around 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to acknowledge the national anthem before football games and Santa Clara police officers are now threatening to boycott working games in Levi’s Stadium as a result.
In a letter penned by the San Francisco police union, they threatened to discontinue working games at Levi’s stadium unless Kaepernick stops his protest. According to NBC Bay Area, the Santa Clara Police Department is the main agency that police the stadium. Officers volunteer to perform the job and are paid as “security personnel.” Around 70 officers volunteer to do the job.
Frank Saunders, Santa Clara’s president of the Police Officers Association told NBC, “I’m already hearing it this week that next week on Monday Night Football, some officers are not going to work.” The next game is on September 12. Saunders also described Kaepernick’s protesting as creating a “hostile work environment” for police officers. In the letter, it stated that the board of directors hold “a duty to protect its members and work to make all of their workings environments free of harassing behavior.”
Though this puts intense pressure on officials, the 49ers have remained neutral throughout the controversy, expressing that Kaepernick is free to protest however he wants. In a statement released by the team, they wrote:
“In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.
Along with Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem, Kaepernick was also photographed at their last game wearing socks showing cartoon pigs wearing police hats. Though he claims he has worn them before, the socks have only just now gained national attention. The police union also mentioned the socks in their letter writing:
It was learned by the members of the SCPOA that the 49er organization has been allowing Mr. Kaepernick to wear exposed socks with the image of a pig wearing a police hat during practices at the training camp in Santa Clara. Photos of Mr. Kaepernick wearing these socks with the derogatory image have been broadcast nationally.
In the letter, the union acknowledged that every officer is not perfect.
Our membership acknowledges that police officers are human and are not perfect. However, blanket statements that police officers in general, murder minorities is completely false and insulting to the dedicated men and women in law enforcement agencies across America.
However, NBC reported that Saunders said the refusal of officers to work in the stadium may cause a conflict between the city’s contract with the police union.
Kaepernick’s protest comes at a time when tensions between the police community and African-American communities are at their highest. Along with being angered about Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality, they are also angered that Kaepernick does not protest the killings of police officers throughout the country.
Regarding his protests, Kaepernick has stated he will not “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” Kaepernick has also pledged a $1 million donation to unnamed community organizations.
With the possibility of a lack of security during the September 12 game, the team will be hard pressed to hire more security quickly to ensure the safety of players and fans. With the game’s proximity to September 11, the safety of American fans, regardless of race or creed, should be a priority at the top of everyone’s list.
Featured image: Getty/Harry How