Colin Kaepernick an example four years after taking a knee
Colin Kaepernick was right.
Sure, some of you will get the vapors and feel faint over reading that. You will commence your righteous defense of the American flag, the national anthem, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet.
You’ll huff and puff about how the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was disgracing the memory of fallen soldiers who died for the flag by taking a knee during the anthem. And you’re falling for the misdirection.
Just as Rosa Parks wasn’t protesting buses themselves by refusing to sit in the back of them, just as Ghandi didn’t have a problem with food when he went on a hunger strike, it was never about the anthem, the flag or patriotism when Kaepernick took a knee before football games back in 2016.
Kaepernick took a knee because it was a means to an end. Four years ago, the quarterback was protesting police brutality of people of color. In light of the events of the eight days, it seems rather tame, doesn’t it?
Kaepernick was protesting the deaths of Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and Walter Scott, among others — all people of color killed by the police. Google the names, and tell me that there wasn’t a good reason to be protesting what happened to those men.
And that, of course, brings us to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis a little more than a week ago. Floyd allegedly was using a counterfeit $20 bill and was arrested. While detaining him, four Minneapolis police officers, most notably Derek Chauvin, pinned Floyd to the ground. Chauvin’s knee was planted on Floyd’s neck for more than 8 minutes.
Floyd died and Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
First, there is the obvious comparison of the quarterback kneeling to protest police brutality and the police officer kneeling on an African-American’s neck. Kaepernick wins that comparison by universal acclaim.
Second is the degree of force applied, and we’re not talking only Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck. Four officers were dispatched to subdue a guy allegedly passing a fake $20 bill? Isn’t this exactly the type of heavy-handed policing to which Kaepernick and others object?
Had Floyd been a suspect in an armed robbery, OK, maybe that makes sense. We all want law enforcement to be safe. By every report, Floyd was not armed at the time of his arrest and was certainly no threat to the officers when he was prostrate on the ground.
This is akin to Eric Garner’s arrest and subsequent death in 2014 while in police custody in New York City for selling loose cigarettes, an overbearing response by law enforcement in response to a small, nonlethal crime. Both African-Americans, Garner and Floyd, chillingly repeated “I can’t breathe” as they died.
Everyone’s seen the video of Floyd’s arrest. Demonstrations started up and, yes, a few have used the opportunity to riot. Many, including President Trump, who scored political points by condemning Kaepernick and other NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, rightly condemn the looting yet are collectively asking, “Well, why can’t they protest peacefully?”
Kaepernick did. It was peaceful protest by taking a knee during the anthem and he got drummed out of the NFL for his troubles and vilified in the process.
It’s almost as if four years later, white America doesn’t want to hear what Kaepernick has to say even though it’s more relevant than ever.
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