Kaepernick discloses death threats after anthem protest

As his social protest continues to pick up momentum and supporters, Colin Kaepernick told Bay Area media he’s begun to receive death threats over his choice to not stand for the traditional pre-game playing of the national anthem.

Speaking days after video footage captured police officers gunning down Terence Crutcher, an unarmed African American man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Kaepernick remained resolute in his cause. He said threats or violence against him would only help to further prove his point about race relations and injustice in America.

Via Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News, Kaepernick said:

“… 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. … Granted, it’s not how I want it to happen, but that’s the realization of what could happen. I knew there were other things that came along with this when I first stood up and spoke about it. It’s not something I haven’t thought about.”

Kaepernick would not specify the exact manner in which the death threats were made, but mentioned that he’s received them in more ways than through just social media.

While Kaepernick said he currently has no plans to ramp up his security, he does intend to follow through with his pledge to donate $1 million dollars to social programs to better struggling communities.

On Tuesday, Kaepernick outlined a plan to donate $100,000 dollars a month for a 10-month period to different organizations in need. In order to improve the transparency of his donations, Kaepernick will launch a website on which his donations will be tracked and publicized.

Since news of the controversy first broke after the team’s second preseason showing against Green Bay, Kaepernick has gained a number of supporters from around the sports spectrum.

CEO of the 49ers, Jed York, has matched Kaepernick’s pledge of donating $1 million dollars to in-need communities. More and more of Kaepernick’s NFL colleagues have began to join his pregame demonstration as well, as players from around the league continue to be spotted kneeling or raising a fist during the anthem. Likewise, U.S Women’s Soccer team star Megan Rapinoe has joined Kaepernick in taking a knee.

Kaepernick didn’t received a largely negative reaction from Levi’s Stadium fans but the backup quarterback said that he was jeered during Sunday’s loss to the Panthers in Charlotte, N.C.:

“It’s something they either don’t care about it or they don’t understand it, which i find it very hard that people don’t understand what’s going on. I think the message has been out there loud and clear for quite some time now. … There’s a lot of racism disguised as patriotism in this country and people don’t like to address that and they don’t like to address what the root of this protest is. You have players across this country, not only in the NFL but soccer and NBA and high school players, they don’t like to address this issue that people of color are oppressed and treated unjustly. I don’t know why that is or what they’re scared of, but it needs to be addressed.”

The Justice Department is investigating Crutcher’s death. Should charges be filed or discipline levied for the officers involved, Kaepernick’s protest may take yet another giant leap forward.


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.