During a press conference in Hangzou, China, President Obama spoke out on the growing controversy over San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality, which he expressed by kneeling during the national anthem.
‘My understanding at least is that he’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement. I think there’s a long history of sports figures doing so.’
During a G-20 conference, Obama answered questions about Kaepernick’s protest and said he was supportive of his exercising of his rights, as well as his engagement in the current political debate. Millenials have proven to be far more increasingly engaged in politics than in past decades, and public demonstrations like Kaepernick’s are vital in raising awareness around critical issues.
‘I’d rather have young people who are engaged in the argument and trying to think through how they can be part of our democratic process than people who are just sitting on the sidelines not paying attention at all.’
The president also acknowledged the difficulty many veterans have in finding a positive message in any form of protest they feel maligns the country they risked their lives to protect, but feels that the issue the NFL player is protesting is “legitimate” and conversations around the issue of police brutality against people of color in America are essential.
‘When it comes to the flag and the national anthem and the meaning that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who fought for us — that is a tough thing for them to get past. But I don’t doubt his sincerity. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about. If nothing else, he’s generated more conversation about issues that have to be talked about.’
The controversy over Colin Kaepernick’s protest began when he knelt during the National Anthem before a game at the end of August. Despite the outrage expressed by some rearding what they felt was an unpatriotic act, Kaepernick insists that he is “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
For President Obama’s full statements on Colin Kaepernick and his protests, see video below:
Featured image screengrab via YouTube