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Kaepernick has the right to exercise his freedom of speech

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Kaepernick has the Right to Exercise His Freedom of Speech

Kaepernick has the Right to Exercise His Freedom of Speech

Kaepernick has the Right to Exercise His Freedom of Speech

Alex Berenfeld, Managing Editor

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being bombarded with accusations of disrespect and disloyalty towards his country. Before a preseason game on August 26, Kaepernick refused to stand up and stayed kneeling during the national anthem to show his dissatisfaction towards racial injustice in America.

The brutal treatment of minorities in America is an extremely prominent issue right now that needs to be addressed. Kaepernick is exercising his right to speak freely, and he should be able to do so without fear of losing his fans, his endorsements or his career. “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 in an interview with the NFL.

According to Mapping Police Violence, an organization that collects data on police killings nationwide, “Police have killed at least 217 black people in the U.S. in 2016.” In addition to this appalling statistic, “97 percent of cases in 2015 did not result in any officers involved being charged with a crime.” As reported by The United States Census Bureau, 12.3 percent of the population is black.

Another study conducted by a University of California, Davis professor found “evidence of a significant bias in the killing of unarmed black Americans relative to unarmed white Americans.” Additionally, the analysis discovered that “the probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police.”

These statistics speak on behalf of Kaepernick, justifying the motivation behind his protest. Countless hate-filled tweets directed at Kaepernick have described his protest as “insulting and disgusting” and “shameful.” Many people consider his actions to be overly disrespectful to our country and believe that he should find a better, less offensive way to protest. However, what these critics fail to recognize is the extent to which Kaepernick is shining light on the horrific behavior of our nation, in such a nonviolent way. Considering the national reaction Kaepernick has received, this silent protest has been an effective one, unlike the violent riots taking place in Charlotte.

The protest that took place in Charlotte on September 22 in response to the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott escalated dramatically when glass was broken, cars were vandalized, tear gas was thrown and a man was shot in the head and killed. Charlotte residents advocating the “Black Lives Matter” movement turned what was originally a peaceful protest into a destructive, terrifying event. Those who continuously attack Kaepernick for his controversial display of criticism need to acknowledge and respect his ability to peacefully make such a significant statement.

In addition to these objections, critics also believe that Kaepernick is too rich to protest. Fox News correspondent Tucker Carlson referred to Kaepernick as “someone who makes $10 million a year.” Carlson said that people should “laugh in [the] face” of any overpaid athlete who begins to call themselves a victim, “including this guy,” in regard to Kaepernick.

Damon Young, editor-in-chief of the online editorial website VSB, confronted the quarterback’s criticizers by answering his own rhetorical question with perfect sarcasm. “Why is Colin Kaepernick, millionaire superstar quarterback, protesting? Because no one would give a damn if Colin Kaepernick, Retail Sales Representative at Verizon Wireless, did.” Celebrities have an opportunity, in cases such as Kaepernick’s, to spread their message because people want to listen to them. When famous people do something noteworthy, people pay attention to them and talk about it, enabling the original message to reach a larger population. Celebrities must take advantage of their fame by bringing their audience’s attention to bigger issues, which is entirely what Kaepernick is doing.

As a matter of fact, Kaepernick, in an open interview with the media, announced his plans to donate the first $1 million he makes this year to help communities in need. This proposal portrays the active role Kaepernick wishes to play in combating racial inequality.

Kaepernick is making a powerful political statement by continuing to kneel for the national anthem, by openly attacking the behavior of our nation, but he is successfully bringing attention to the need for social change. By kneeling, Kaepernick is taking a stand against police brutality, racial discrimination and minority oppression.

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Kaepernick has the right to exercise his freedom of speech