Colin Kaepernick says if he is killed for protests, it will have 'proved point'

ByNick Wagoner ESPN logo
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick says he has had his life threatened as a response to his protest of racial oppression and inequality in the United States by kneeling during the national anthem.

Kaepernick said Tuesday that he has received threats via "a couple of different avenues," in addition to social media. He seemed mostly nonplussed by the threats, saying he hasn't reported any of them to the 49ers security team.

"To me, if something like that were to happen, you've proved my point and it will be loud and clear for everyone why it happened and that would move this movement forward at a greater speed than what it is even now," Kaepernick said. "Granted, I don't want that to happen, but that's the realization of what could happen, and I knew there were other things that came along with this when I first stood up and spoke about it. That's not something I haven't thought about."

Kaepernick spoke to a handful of reporters Tuesday in a 15-minute chat that started out as an informal conversation about vegan weightlifting supplements and turned serious when Kaepernick began speaking about police shooting and killing Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday.

"I think it will be very, very telling what happens with the officer that killed him, what happens with [her] because everybody's eyes will be on [her]," Kaepernick said. "For me, I think one of the things that I've noticed throughout this is there's a lot of racism in this country disguised as patriotism. People want to take everything back to the flag, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about racial discrimination, inequalities and injustices that are happening across the nation."

Kaepernick began his protest in the preseason by choosing to sit for the national anthem in the first three games before he and safety Eric Reid knelt before the team's preseason finale in San Diego after a long chat with Army Green Beret Nate Boyer, who is also a former NFL player.

In the time since, Kaepernick's protest has gained traction in other corners of the country with athletes kneeling and some raising a fist during the playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner."

Kaepernick has also pledged to donate the first $1 million he makes this season to charities that will help communities in need. He added a little more about the progress on that front Tuesday, saying he intends to donate $100,000 per week over the next 10 weeks to the organizations he chooses to work with.

Kaepernick said his team is building a website that shows where the money is going, shows how it's being spent and, he hopes, offers people the chance to donate.

"We'll be able to track it so everyone can see exactly what organizations the money is going to and also making sure that we get an itemized list from the organizations of what they're spending the money on to make sure not only that I'm transparent with what I'm doing but these organizations are transparent with where the money is going as well," Kaepernick said.

Kaepernick said it has been challenging to vet the many organizations that have reached out for help and he is working to ensure that the money is going to the right place.

"That's part of the reason we are being very careful and very meticulous with what we're doing to make sure that the organizations that we are working with are grassroots and the money is going to the communities that we want it to go to and helping the people that we want it to help," Kaepernick said. "Because there's a lot of foundations and organizations where a fraction of the money that you donate goes to what the actual cause is and a lot of it is spent on company expenses or whatever you want to call it. That's part of what we want to make sure we are not allowing to happen when making donations."

While Kaepernick said he knew the backlash that might come with his protest, he is keeping his focus on the many athletes and people around the country offering support. He pointed to athletes at all levels of sports and in other sports as joining the cause and singled out New England Patriots defensive end Chris Long for expressing his thoughts recently.

"I think other people are picking up on the protest and speaking out about it, from high school to activists to pro athletes," Kaepernick said. "I think it's huge and I think the more conversation continues between those communities, more and more solutions will come up on how to fix this and the best way to fix it as quickly as possible. I think that's important and ultimately the goal."

Former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch supported Kaepernick's stance during an appearance on Conan on Tuesday night.

"With what's going on, I'd rather see him take a knee than stand up, put his hands up and get murdered," Lynch said. "My take on it is [expletive] they got to start somewhere.

"I just hope people open up their eyes and see that there's really a problem going on and something needs to be done for it to stop."

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