Posted across the street on the other side of Park Avenue, two black trucks with video boards beamed a slideshow of images. One showed Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem. Another displayed him gazing up at the sky with the words “we support Kaepernick” flashing below.
Kevin Livingston, the president of 100 Suits for 100 Men, a New York non-profit that gives parolees free business attire and haircuts to assist them in job interviews, Livingston organized the Wednesday evening rally to show support for 29-year-old Colin Kaepernick.
“This is not a protest, this is not a demonstration,” Livingston told Black Westchester’s Editor-In-Chief AJ Woodson. “This is a show of solidarity. We’re here supporting Colin because we want to show that we don’t think he’s being treated the way he should be treated, and after everything he’s done for us, we want him to feel that love and that support.” (See full video of rally below at bottom of article).
Kaepernick’s purpose has been clear from the jump: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick has allegedly been blackballed from playing in the NFL again. This would of course not be a first for pro-sports in the United States. Look at the career of the great NBA point guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, whom Phil Jackson has described as the 1990s version of Steph Curry. After a reporter noticed he wasn’t standing during the national anthem, the soft-spoken scorer was vilified and painted as a distraction. He received death threats, and within two years — still with the skills of an NBA starter — he was out of the league. His silent protest was meant to bring attention to the fact that the flag was a “symbol of tyranny,” not representative of the values of his Islamic faith. In this, Abdul-Rauf doubled down on being a Muslim, in a Christian country, and suffered the consequences.Many organizations including the National Action Network and Blacks In Law Enforcement of America came to support those including one of Eric Garner’s daughters to say we will not allow the NFL to do the same to Colin. New York State Sen. James Sanders Jr., former NBA player Etan Thomas, several spoken word poets and other community activists also spoke, sharing support for Kaepernick and promoting messages of fair treatment of minorities and disenfranchised people.
Emerald Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner, who died after New York police put a choke hold on him in July 2014, was one of the main speakers.
“I know that he took a knee for us,” Garner yelled into the megaphone. “So now we stand with him. It’s not right that these cops get to walk away scot-free after they killed these unarmed men and this one NFL player stood up for us and gets all of this blackball, all of this backlash. It’s not right. So he took a knee for us — I stand with him.”While he wasn’t there to speak but to show his support, Blacks in Law Enforcement of America (BLEA) NY Rep, Damon K. Jones responded to the call for Mr. Kaepernick by calling for a boycott.
“Once in a blue moon, we get an athlete who uses his star power to bring attention to the abuses of police. Conscious people were aware of this. It brought attention to the unjust police killings. Many wonder why would Blacks in Law Enforcement support him? “Many of us have been trying to do this ever since they allowed Blacks in law enforcement. We understand the sacrifice because we get black-balled too,” Damon K. Jones, New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America recently told The Final Call.
“Colin deserves a job. They want to make him suffer, ‘Negro don’t get out of line.’ While he suffers, they are drafting others accused of physical and sexual assault crimes. What was Colin’s crime? Some say the owners have a right to not hire him. But we have a right not to spend our money with the NFL or their sponsors,” said Mr. Jones whose organization, BLEA has started an online petition.
The NFL is sending a serious message to the rest of their Black athletes that they better not cause any more trouble, even if you’re bringing awareness to the many injustices to your own people. The NFL is also broadcasting a message to Black people throughout the world that Black issues do not matter. It is uncommon that our children see athletes standing up for issues in their communities, especially for the many black men that have been unjustly killed by Law Enforcement.
“What does it say about the NFL, and about us, when at least a half-dozen men who have been accused of physical or sexual assault have been welcomed into the NFL over the past week, while Colin Kaepernick still has not?
While some NFL teams were busy drafting names from the police blotter last weekend, Kaepernick was standing outside a New York City parole office, handing out two boxes of his own custom-made suits to men who needed them for upcoming job interviews. He has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to charity. In March, it was reported by several news media outlets, including USA TODAY Sports, that Kaepernick will not protest the national anthem this coming season. And yet he’s still a free agent, so far unwanted by all 32 NFL teams.“ – USA Today, May 3, 2017
“As conscious Black People, we must send the same message to the NFL and their Sponsors that our dollars matter by boycotting the NFL and their products for basically punishing Kaepernick for his position on social justice issues,” Mr. Jones shares with BW.
If you want to make your voice truly heard by the NFL, you must hit them and their sponsors in the pocket. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said it’s time to redistribute the pain.
NFL SPONSORS TO BOYCOTT
Anheuser-Busch, Barclaycard US, Bose, Bridgestone, Campbell’s Soup Company, Castrol, Courtyard Marriott, Dairy Management, Inc. (DMI/National Dairy Council), Dannon, Extreme Networks, FedEx, Gatorade, Hyundai Motor America, Mars Snackfood, McDonald’s, Microsoft (XBOX, Surface and Windows), Nationwide, News America, Papa John’s, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Quaker, SAP Americas, TD Ameritrade, Verizon, Visa, USAA
Kaepernick in the spirit of Muhammad Ali, who gave up prime years of his career for a belief, is standing up for us risking possibly never playing professional football in this country again, and now those who attended the rally stood in unison for him. This rally is only one part of many taking place around the country Livingston, informed the crowd.
AJ is a Father, Author, Writer, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
You can also hear AJ every Thursday morning at 7:20 A.M. on Good Morning Westchester with host Bob Marrone on WVOX