Over the weekend, approximately 80 current and former NYPD officers held a rally with activists in support of Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started a wave of national anthem protests last fall when he took a knee during the anthem to protest police brutality and systematic racism.
Kaepernick, who led his team to the Super Bowl in 2012, has not yet been signed by an NFL team. It appears he’s being blackballed by the NFL due to his protest.
NYPD Sergeant Edwin Raymond organized the rally, which was held in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Most of the officers who attended wore black T-shirts with the message “#IMWITHKAP” on the front.
“They said he disrespected law enforcement,” Sergeant Raymond said. “Well, I’m law enforcement, and he didn’t disrespect me.”
“What Colin Kaepernick did is try to bring awareness that this nation unfortunately has ignored for far too long,” Raymond told the New York Daily News. “And that’s the issue of racism in America and policing in America. We decided to gather here today because of the way he’s being railroaded for speaking the obvious truth.”
Frank Serpico, the legendary NYPD whistleblower who exposed police corruption in the 1970s and was later lionized on the big screen by Al Pacino, also attended the rally. Serpico isn’t a football fan himself, but he felt it was important to show his solidarity with Kaepernick anyway.
“I am here to support anyone who has the courage to stand up against injustice and oppression anywhere in this country and the world,” the 81-year-old former detective told reporters.
Despite Kaepernick’s continued unemployment, the anthem protests are still spreading across the sports world — especially in wake of the white violent nationalist rally in Charlottesville earlier this month.
Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett has already announced he will sit during the national anthem all season long, and in the past few days, white NFL players have joined in on the protests for the first time. Teams across the WNBA are also standing together, arms linked, during the national anthem to promote unity and send a clear message against racism.
Most critics who have expressed disagreement with the anthem protests have categorized them as “anti-police,” so it’s significant that so many officers showed their solidarity with Kaepernick and other protesters on Saturday.
“As members of law enforcement, we can confirm that the issues [Kaepernick] is saying exist in policing, and throughout the criminal justice system, indeed exist,” Raymond said.