Kaepernick and Police Unions Poles Apart on Racism

Written by Ralph E. Stone. Posted in Opinion, Politics, Sports

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Published on September 22, 2016 with No Comments

Cartoon by Bruce Plante.

Cartoon by Bruce Plante.

By Ralph E. Stone

September 22, 2016

Everyone now knows that San Francisco 49ers quarterback took a knee instead of standing during the national anthem before a game was played as a protest against racism in America and the police killings of blacks.

Immediately, critics turned his protest into disrespect of the flag and of veterans.  This, of course, is nonsense.  The America flag symbolizes many things and certainly among them is the right and, indeed, the duty to protest injustice.  And black veterans should remember the history of racism in the military.  In fact, it took over 50 years and a presidential order before the U.S. Army reviewed their records in order to award Medals of Honor to black soldiers. In 1948, President Truman signed Executive Order 9981, officially ending segregation and racial inequality in the military.  Is there still racism in the military today?  Ask an African-American now serving in the army, air force, navy, or marines.

Instead of acknowledging the rightness of Kaepernick’s protest, the San Francisco Police Officers Association (POA) went into attack mode.  In a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and 49ers CEO Jed York, the POA denounced Kaepernick’s “ill-advised” statements and a “naiveté” and “total lack of sensitivity” toward police, along with an “incredible lack of knowledge” about officer-involved shootings.  The POA letter failed to note the notches already on San Francisco police gun belts — e.g., the police shootings of Alex NietoAmilcar Perez-LopezLuis GongoraJessica Williams, and Mario Woods.

Then on September 16, 2016, the National Fraternal Order of Police (NFOP), the country’s largest law enforcement union, announced it would endorse Republican Donald Trump for president, who has a long history of saying and doing racist things and has won the support and praise of the country’s white supremacists. By endorsing Trump, the NFOP is in effect endorsing racism, the continuation of the status quo instead of reform.

Clearly, many of our police continue to be oblivious to the need for more action for change.  Instead of criticizing Colin Kaepernick, he should be praised for rebooting the discussion about endemic racism in America and the needless police killings of blacks.

Ralph E. Stone

I was born in Massachusetts; graduated from Middlebury College and Suffolk Law School; served as an officer in the Vietnam war; retired from the Federal Trade Commission (consumer and antitrust law); travel extensively with my wife Judi; and since retirement involved in domestic violence prevention and consumer issues.

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