Colin Kaepernick is now wearing socks depicting the police as pigs. pic.twitter.com/C1D809YSR2— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) September 1, 2016
While 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's recent decision to sit during the national anthem as a protest against police violence directed at communities of color has garnered national attention, astute observers noticed another form of protest that began earlier in the month. As the Bleacher Report notes, Kap was spotted wearing socks that depicted police officers as pigs on August 10.
"Pig," of course, is a derogatory name for a cop.
Perhaps sensing that he would soon be asked to explain his choice of footwear, Kaepernick today posted a message to Instagram addressing the growing controversy. "I wore these socks, in the past, because the rogue cops that are allowed to hold positions in police departments, not only put the community in danger, but also put the cops that have the right intentions in danger by creating an environment of tension and mistrust," explained the quarterback. "I have two uncles and friends who are police officers and work to protect and serve ALL people. So before these socks, which were worn before I took my public stance, are used to distract from the real issues, I wanted to address this immediately."
The "real issues," as Kaepernick sees them, are that the national anthem literally celebrates killing freed slaves and that racism is still alive and well in our country. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he told NFL.com.
As to be expected, not everyone agrees. “It’s just ridiculous that the same league that prohibits the Dallas (Cowboys) football club from honoring the slain officers in their community with their uniforms stands silent when Kaepernick is dishonoring police officers with what he’s wearing on the field," Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, told USA TODAY Sports.
That Kaepernick was wearing the socks during practice, and not an actual game when league uniform standards would come into play, did not temper Johnson's frustration. “I think the league is in a downward spiral regarding their obligations to the public under (Commissioner) Roger Goodell," Johnson continued, "and this is just another example of that."
State senate candidate and San Francisco supervisor Jane Kim, meanwhile, has come out in support of Kaepernick. Kim is known for a similar stance regarding the pledge of allegiance. “I haven’t done the pledge since high school,” Kim told the Chronicle. “I hadn’t done it [when serving] on the school board either, but it became a story with the Board of Supervisors. I know there still isn’t justice for all," she continued, referencing the line "with liberty and justice for all.”
Kaepernick, for his part, appears content to stick to his protest until a serious effort is made to better train police to address issues of racial bias in policing. "You have people who practice law, lawyers, who go to school for 8 years, but you can be a cop in 6 months," he told CBS 5. "You don’t have to do the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. I mean someone with a curling iron has more education and training than people who have a gun. That’s insane.”