This will probably bother some of my friends and colleagues but I couldn’t care less that Colin Kaepernick is sitting, kneeling, or sleeping during the National Anthem. It’s his right. His First Amendment right as a matter of fact.
If he wants to dishonor himself, that’s up to him.
Most think he’s a petulant, hypocritical idiot. Others brand him a hero standing up for injustice. I still don’t care. I don’t like it. But I just don’t care what some whiny, uninformed rich guy does—even if it’s all over the internet.
That being said, I do care that his statements—deficient in specificity, accuracy, and reality—are being parroted by others and accepted as truth.
He said: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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.”
Rather than address the veracity of the declaration, other professional athletes—though not many—are mirroring Kaepernick’s behavior (and benefiting from the media coverage) by championing his inaccurate and disingenuous beliefs.
It’s his right to do and say what he wants to drive media attention. It’s my right to challenge him: his blatant hypocrisy, his beliefs, and his false premises.
Why He’s Wrong
We, in our classes, and, I in my writings, always acknowledge that our profession is far from perfect and in fact employs a minuscule number of corrupt and evil members. They must be rooted out and dismissed or prosecuted for the good of society and the professionalism of law enforcement.
Beyond that, like any other profession (sports included), there’s a spectrum of performance. I firmly believe that every police officer can improve. Calibre Press features several classes for law enforcement addressing implicit bias, leadership, and communication designed to help the profession address our shortcomings.
So back to the second-string quarterback’s statement and beliefs as well as his anger and his lack of commitment to due process: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color … It would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
If a group is being oppressed then there must be an “oppressor.” Who is it? Kaepernick seems to imply it’s the police.
OK, so which police oppress? How many? What organizations? Since there are 18,000 separate agencies and thousands upon thousands of criminal justice systems, we need specifics to address the validity of his statement. Once he’s specific we can examine the nitty-gritty. Until then, it’s generalization.
I will preface this by saying: There have been thoroughly corrupt agencies in our nation’s history. But—police shootings are way down in the last 30 years. When considering violent crime stats in specific geographic areas, law enforcement shows a remarkable restraint in the use of force.
Again, statistics: There are over 240 million calls for service to our nation’s 9-1-1 systems. There are over 11 million arrests every year and, statistically, very few result in injury to the arrestee. The police have approximately 1 billion face-to-face contacts annually and fewer than 1,000 are shot and killed.
One bad shoot is absolutely one too many—no question—but it’s going to happen. Given that police are human and given that often police are working in hostile and violent environments, mistakes are inevitable. While we strive for no bad-shoots, we must recognize in a larger sense that that is impossible.
Half way through this year approximately 491 people had been shot and killed by police according to the Washington Post’s tracking system. More than half of those people fired weapons at the police first. I’ve read most of these accounts as objectively as I can. Generally speaking, American police use force as a last resort.
Kaepernick speaks in generalities but that doesn’t work in this sort of discussion. Yes, murder is up in this country. Way up. But, according to The New York Times, just seven cities account for half of the increase. What’s happening in those cities? Let’s look at just one of them: my hometown, Chicago.
As of September 12, 3,048 people have been shot just in the City of Chicago. That is, 3,048 attempted murders. 527 are dead. Of the 3,048 shot more than 95% are people of color, with more than 90% of those being male.
The Chicago police have shot and killed six, while wounding 12.
Where’s the oppression the quarterback talked about? In neighborhoods overrun by gangs and a horrific cycle of addiction and poverty.
Who are the oppressors? Criminal gang-bangers who have no regard for human life.
In the face of this oppression, Colin “It Would be Selfish on my Part to Look the Other Way” Kaepernick lives in a 4,600 sq.-ft., $2.7 million mansion in California, picking up $11 million a year as a second-string quarterback.
He said: “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Referring to a police officer as a murderer with no evidence to back that up, having no privy to the investigation, and lacking any factual proof is, well, repulsive.
Paid leave while the investigation goes forward is both fair and necessary.
Due process in this country is a core component of our system. Innocent until proven guilty isn’t just a phrase, and it works the same for cops as for criminals. When an investigation commences it’s imperative that a police officer be able to feed his or her family until all the facts are out and a judgement is made.
Are we to suspend officers—without pay—every time they use force? Of course not. That would be unfair, illegal, dangerous, and detrimental on so many levels.
So officers, who have not been found civilly liable, in violation of policy, or criminally responsible are given, as they should be, the benefit of the doubt. Does he want to do away with due process?
As for Kaepernick, he received over $400,000 just to show up during workouts even though physically he couldn’t throw a football. His main job. That alone is eight times the annual salary of the average police officer. In addition, his $11.9 million base salary for 2016 is fully guaranteed whether he plays or not. Whether he is cut or not.
His team, the 49ers, must decide if paying him over $12 million dollars will actually be cheaper than keeping him on the bench taking up a roster spot.
The average American, working for 40 years will bring in slightly over $2 million. 40 years!
He’s right, the system isn’t fair.