Nearly a year ago, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a stand against police brutality and violence against black bodies by taking a knee during the National Anthem. Because of his act of nonviolent protest, Kaepernick has essentially been black balled by the NFL, and no team in the league seems willing to pick up his contract.
So over the weekend it was moving to see nearly 100 active and retired officers from the New York Police Department show their support for the football star’s fight against racial injustice and police brutality.
The New York Times reported that most of the cops were people of color, and during the rally in Brooklyn Bridge Park they wore shirts reading ”#ImWithKap.”
Sergeant Edwin Raymond, who organized the event, told The Times that he was planning this event prior to the Charlottesville incident, but the violence made the need for the event even more pressing.
During the event, speakers related the backlash Kaepernick faced for his demonstration to the recent violence in Charlottesville sparked by a white supremacist rally. Kaepernick’s non-profit, Know Your Rights Camp, shared photos from the event on Twitter.
“As members of law enforcement, we can confirm that the issues he is saying exist in policing, and throughout the criminal justice system, indeed exist,” Raymond said at the rally (watch in the video below).
New York City Councilman Jumaane D. Williams, a speaker at the rally, said more cops should be speaking out about accountability.
“All of the people behind me risk their lives, so to speak, to protect folks, and they are standing with Kaepernick because they understand how important it is to push back on the structure,” he said.
Retired officer Frank Serpico, whose campaign against corruption in the police department was the subject of the 1973 film “Serpico,” was also in attendance. The 81-year-old told the Associated Press that he felt moved to support Kaepernick.
“He’s trying to hold up this government up to our founding fathers,” he said. “Until racism in America is no longer taboo, we own up to it, we admit it, we understand it and then we do what we have to do to solve it, unfortunately we’re going to have these issues.”
Williams told The Times that Kaepernick ― who still hasn’t been signed by an NFL team ― making this stance doesn’t mean he’s anti-police.
“People use the terms ‘anti-police,’ ‘unpatriotic,’ to scare people from stepping forward,” he told the Times after the rally. “It takes courage to say, ‘I’m going to do it anyway, because it’s what’s right.’”