Kaepernick: I’ll stand for the anthem when things change

Despite facing backlash for his actions, Colin Kaepernick told Bay Area media Sunday he’ll continue to sit during the singing of our national anthem.

Speaking openly near his teammates in the Levi’s Stadium locker room, Kaepernick cited police brutality and racial injustice as reasons for his continuing protest during the traditional pre-game playing of “the Star-Spangled Banner.”

With the blessing of the league, various teammates and the 49ers organization, Kaepernick said he plans on continuing his protest until he perceives a change in the tense cultural climate of the United States:

“I’ll continue to sit. I’m going to continue to stand with the people who are oppressed. To me this is something that has to change. And when there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent and this country is representing people the way it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”

Kaepernick directly addressed the idea that his refusal to stand for the national anthem dishonors the men and women of our military whom it seeks to honor:

“I have great respect for men and women who have fought for this country. I have family, I have friends that have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people and for liberty and justice for everyone. And that’s not happening. People are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding their end of the bargain up as far as giving freedom and justice and liberty to everybody.”

Kaepernick pointed out changes he would like to see within the nation at both a social and governmental level, but reserved his biggest criticism for increasing reports and examples of police brutality — particularly towards minorities.

After saying he believes himself to have been racially profiled in an encounter with the police during his college years, Kaepernick stated that he takes issue with both the current state of police personnel and the leniency they are often showed in the legal system:

“There’s people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. Cops are getting paid leave for killing people. That’s not right. That’s not right by anyone’s standards.”

Kaepernick added:

“People of color have been targeted by police, so that’s a large part of it. And they’re government officials. They’re put in place by the government, so that’s something that this country has to change. There’s things we can do to hold them more accountable, make those standards higher. You have people who practice law and are lawyers and go to school for eight years, but you can become a cop in six months and you don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. That’s insane. Someone who is holding a curling iron has more education and more training than people that have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.”

Kaepernick said that he chose now as a time to make a stance since he has had time to educate himself further on racial issues in both the past and present. His protest comes during a time as supporters of movements such as Black Lives Matter and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump wage verbal war in the media.

The quarterback said he’s gotten great support from his teammates during the open dialogue he has had with them. And if his protest does punch his ticket out of the building, Kaepernick states that he’ll view it as a victory in his crusade:

“If I do, I know I did what’s right. And I can live with that at the end of the day.”

With or without the controversy, it remains to be seen whether Kaepernick will remain on the 49ers roster during the next round of roster cuts. Incumbent starter Blaine Gabbert has been healthier and more consistent during his time on the field with the 49ers.

While Kaepernick’s $11.9 million contract is guaranteed, the team may try to offload him on a trade to save money on his hefty contract..

Shawn Whelchel is SFBay’s San Francisco 49ers beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShawnWhelchel on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of 49ers football.