Most Americans disagree with Kaepernick, but respect his right to protest

Wed Sep 14, 2016 3:40pm EDT
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By Amy Tennery

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Most Americans think San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the national anthem is unpatriotic but support his right to free speech, while nearly half do not think the National Football League should penalize him, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.

The opinion poll found that 61 percent of Americans said they do not agree with Kaepernick, who has taken a knee during the "Star-Spangled Banner" in protest of racial injustice and police brutality.

Explore the polling results here!poll/TM994Y16_4

While Kaepernick has inspired other players to refuse to stand during the national anthem, 72 percent of Americans said they thought it was unpatriotic.

Even so, 64 percent of respondents said they felt the quarterback had the right to protest under the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech.

And 46 percent said he should not be penalized by the NFL, which so far has said that there is no specific rule that requires players to stand during the anthem. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said he supports players' right to protest.

Nancy Harms, a farmer in Iowa, told Reuters she strongly believed Kaepernick should stand for the anthem as someone "born and raised in this country." But she said his protest was a fair exercise of freedom of speech.

"I have the freedom of speech also and I say, 'you're wrong'," Harms, 57, added.   Continued...

Sep 12, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; (Editors note: Caption correction) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and teammate 49ers free safety Eric Reid (35) kneel during the playing of the national anthem before a NFL game against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports