The Naked Truth/Jamala Rogers
The Reverberating Impact of Colin Kaepernick
I want to bring together two seemingly unrelated recent rulings. The National Football League settled with former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Three white Chicago cops who lied in their reports about the murder of Laquan McDonald were acquitted by a judge. How are these two rulings related?
Let’s do a quick review of the two situations.
Kap’s view is that America is not paying serious attention to the unfettered abuse of police in communities of color; that the historic white blanket of racism looms over
every aspect of our lives. To express his dissatisfaction, Kaepernick first began sitting on the bench when the national anthem was sung. Blatant cop-killings forced
him to take it to the next level by “taking a knee.” Other mainly Black NFL players joined the spontaneous actions.
The actions of Kaepernick received national attention. It received the condemnation of president trump and finally forced the quarterback out of the NFL to become a
free agent. It appeared that he was being black-balled by the NFL. He subsequently sued the NFL for collusion to prevent his employment by a franchise team.
The conditions of his settlement are sealed but unconfirmed reports put his take (along fellow team mate Eric Reid) at $60-80 million. Reid has signed a 3-year deal
with the Carolina Panthers.
Black teen Laquan McDonald was viciously gunned down by Chicago cops in 2014.
The police video of the account was suppressed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel until he
won a hotly contested mayoral race. Although the teen brandished a knife, the
barrage of bullets came after he attempted to flee the police — meaning McDonald
was no longer a threat.
Jason Van Dyke has been convicted of second-degree murder in the McDonald
case and sentenced to seven years in prison. The police reports of David March,
Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney conflicted with the facts of the video. The three
were charged with conspiracy when they claimed the teen tried to attack them with a
knife, obviously trying to justify the lethal act of Van Dyke.
Judge Domenica Stephenson said that the wide discrepancies between the
officers’ report and the video were not “proof that they were lying.” The cops were
acquitted and not required to be accountable for their wrongdoings.
This judgment and others like it across the country were exactly the catalyst for the
#TakeAKnee movement. Kaepernick’s protests were part of ongoing resistance to
racism in general and specifically to racially-motivated practices of law enforcement.
Kap was born in Milwaukee and spent his early childhood in Fond du Lac. To the
fierce objections of the Legislature’s Black Caucus, the Republican-dominated
legislature removed the player’s name to be honored during the state’s Black
History Month observance.
Kaepernick has used his status to elevate an issue that white America continues to
ignore and earnestly take on — the issue of race. He added his voice to the national
debate about treatment of Black and Brown people by so-called law enforcers. He
took on the powerful NFL and won. Whether Kaepernick gets an NFL contract or not,
his place in the struggle for human dignity and racial justice is secure.