A high school football team in Oakland, Calif., got an assist from Colin Kaepernick on Friday when its players showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement by lying on their backs with their hands up during the national anthem.
“I had to come support you all, because the same way you all took a stand and stood with me, I had to come out here and stand with you all,” the San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback told the players from Castlemont High School ahead of their protest (via ESPN). “So I appreciate what you all did. I love you all. You all are my brothers. I’m here with you.”
This is the second week in a row the Castlemont players have protested during the national anthem. Last Friday, they knelt while raising one fist in the air. Kaepernick did not lie down with them, however, opting instead to kneel beside the players in a sign of solidarity.
Kaepernick first began to protest during the national anthem last month to raise awareness about the state of race relations in the United States.
“To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” he told NFL Media in late August.
“There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” he added, referring to the recent spate of police killings of mostly unarmed black men.
Since then, several athletes — both professional and amateur — have followed in Kaepernick’s footsteps. On Wednesday, the first entire professional team, the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, knelt together when the anthem played ahead of its game against the Phoenix Mercury.
The protests are unlikely to stop anytime soon, Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr predicted. He said Wednesday that he expects “something similar” to what Kaepernick and other athletes are doing to happen in the NBA when its season kicks off later next month.
“This is America. This is what our country is about,” Kerr said (via The Undefeated). “It’s a nonviolent protest. It’s what it should be about.”