Eyes on NFL's Kaepernick in San Diego amid anthem protest

Thu Sep 1, 2016 9:16pm EDT
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By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - All eyes will be on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick at a Thursday night football game to see if he will sit again during the U.S. national anthem to protest racial injustice in the United States.

Kaepernick, 28, has drawn both strong support and fierce criticism for refusing to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner" before the 49ers' National Football League preseason games this year.

Kaepernick, who led San Francisco to the 2013 Super Bowl but has since been demoted to backup, has said he would not show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses people of color, citing police brutality. He is the latest black athlete to use the arena as a national platform for protest against racial injustice.

The use of force by police against African-Americans in cities such as Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore and New York has sparked periodic and sometimes destructive protests in the past two years and prompted the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Kaepernick had been sitting out the national anthem in San Francisco's first three preseason games but it was not widely noticed until last Friday's game against Green Bay.

He will be under great scrutiny at the game in San Diego, where the Chargers will be putting on their annual "Salute to the Military." Ceremonies will feature 240 military personnel presenting a giant American flag, a remembrance of the Vietnam War and a patriotic fireworks show, the Chargers said.

The 49ers, who unsuccessfully tried to trade Kaepernick since his demotion, have supported his protest, as have many others, including NFL Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown and National Basketball Association legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

But the demonstration also has drawn fierce criticism from a wide variety of commentators, including the San Francisco Police Officer's Association, which in a statement called him "misinformed" and demanded an apology.   Continued...

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) throws a pass before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports