On Aug. 26, 2016, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during the national anthem before a preseason game. From that day on, he became synonymous with protesting the national anthem.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said after his initial protest, according to NFL.com.
“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick later switched from sitting to kneeling, but his general disdain for his country remained. Some may not remember that about five years ago, retired police officer Chris Amos posted an open letter to Kaepernick on Facebook.
“I’ve read your statement a few times and want you to know I am one of the reasons you are protesting,” Amos said. “You see I am a retired police officer that had the misfortune of having to shoot and kill a 19-year-old African American male.”
Amos said he was put on leave after the shooting, and he received about $3,000 a month while supporting his wife and three children.
“You know Colin the more I think about it the more we seem to have in common,” Amos continued.
“I really pushed myself in rehab to get back on the street, kind of like you do to get back on the field. You probably have had a broken bone or two and some muscle strains and deep bruising that needed a lot of work. I just had to bounce back from a gunshot wound to the chest and thigh.”
In addition, Amos said both he and Kaepernick have faced ill will from people who dislike them because of their uniforms.
“I sure am glad for your sake that the folks who wear my uniform are on hand to escort you and those folks that wear your uniform into stadiums in places like Seattle!” Amos said.
Amos then moved on to the ways in which he and Kaepernick are different.
“You entertain for a living, I and almost 800,000 others across this country serve and protect. Are there some bad apples within my profession? Absolutely and they need to be identified and fired or arrested! But you know what, the vast majority do the right thing, the right way, for the right reason.”
Amos told the story of an elderly black man who asked him and his partner to stop the “thugs terrorizing an otherwise good and decent neighborhood” seconds before Amos himself was shot.
“Colin I have buried 7 friends, killed in the line of duty and three others who have committed suicide,” Amos said. “I have attended more funerals than I care to remember of neighboring departments who have lost officers in the line of duty, during my career.”
“Colin I am sorry for the endorsement deals you may lose and the dip in jersey sales, but please know you will NEVER lose what these men and women and their families have lost.”
Amos concluded by saying it “means very little to me” whether Kaepernick stands for the anthem. Instead, he said he and his former colleagues are concerned with protecting the public.
“As for me and the men and women on whose team I was privileged to serve, we will put on our ballistic vests, badge, and gun, kiss our loved one’s goodbye, for some tragically for the last time, and out into a shift of uncertainty we will go,” he said.
“We will continue to protect and continue to serve and we will be standing at attention Colin, not just for the playing of our National Anthem, but far more importantly for the playing of Taps.”
It’s easy to demonize police officers from far away, but if Kaepernick were to spend a week in Amos’ shoes, he would gain some much-needed perspective.
Police officers are not out to kill innocent people, and the vast majority of them do not have personal vendettas against black Americans. Their primary goal is to protect all Americans, and having to take a life is a last resort that they do not take lightly.
While Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since 2017, he recently made headlines for expressing his desire to make a comeback.
“I am still up at 5 a.m. training five, six days a week making sure I’m prepared to take a team to a Super Bowl again,” he told Ebony.
“That’s not something I will ever let go of, regardless of the actions of 32 teams and their partners to deny me employment.”
Kaepernick has only been denied employment because the NFL is a business. He is at best a backup-caliber quarterback, and teams have decided the PR circus created by his anti-American stunts is not worth the risk.
If Kaepernick truly wants to better himself, he ought to read Amos’ letter and take its content to heart.
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