- The Washington Times
Saturday, September 3, 2016

Police officers who provide security at San Francisco 49ers home games told the team’s CEO on Friday that they may stop coming to work on account of quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s recent remarks and actions about law enforcement.

The warning was issued in a letter to 49ers CEO Jed York sent Friday by the union that represents members of the Santa Clara Police Department — the lead agency responsible for providing security at Levi’s Stadium during NFL games — one week after Mr. Kaepernick ignited a national firestorm by not standing during the playing of the National Anthem.

On Thursday’s preseason game against the Chargers in San Diego, Mr. Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the anthem rather than sitting down.

The quarterback said in subsequent interviews that his decision not to stand was a protest against racial injustice and police brutality, and that he couldn’t show pride in a flag that represents a country that oppresses minorities. His remarks further prompted backlash that intensified on Thursday when he acknowledging wearing socks with pictures of pigs dressed like police officers as a means of protest as well.

Responding a day later, the Santa Clara Police Officers Association said in its letter that further failure on the part of the 49ers with respect to disciplining the team’s quarterback “could result in police officers choosing not to work at your facilities.”

The letter accuses the quarterback of making “obviously insulting, inaccurate and completely unsupported” statements about law enforcement that has threatened an otherwise “harmonious working relationship” between the team and union.

“The board of directors of the Santa Clara Police Officer’s Association has a duty to protect its members and work to make all of their workings environments free of harassing behavior,” the letter said.

“I’m already hearing it this week that next week on Monday Night Football, some officers are not going to work,” the union’s president, Frank Saunders, told the local Bay Area NBC affiliate.

Around two-thirds of each 49ers home game relies on the Santa Clara Police Department for security, with the rest largely coming from other law enforcement agencies in the area, the station reported.

According to the union chief, any attempt to hire outside security in the event of a possible strike on the part of the Santa Clara cops may potentially breach the contract between the city and the the officer’s union.

“It’s telling that when you say that the police can’t just kill people anymore they say they’ll stop working,” DeRay Mckesson, an activist whose been involved with Black Lives Matter, said on Twitter. The tweet was shared more than 12,000 times as of Saturday morning.

The 49ers previously defended its quarterback’s actions in a statement released hours after Mr. Kaepernick declined to stand during the anthem before last week’s game against the Green Bay Packers and said the team respected his decision to exercise his First Amendment rights.

Last Saturday, 49ers coach Chip Kelly told said the quarterback’s decision is “his right as a citizen” and said “it’s not my right to tell him not to do something,” NFL Media reported.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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