Social media reacts as Kaepernick takes a knee in protest

The Twitterverse has mixed views as the 49ers quarterback gets booed for again not standing during the playing of national anthem.

Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Terry Collins
3 min read

Nope, Colin Kaepernick isn't backing down.

Social media maintained its mixed stance toward the controversial San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who kept his word by not standing, instead taking a knee during "The Star-Spangled Banner" before his team's preseason game Thursday versus the Chargers in San Diego.

Twitter was quick to point out that the embattled QB wasn't alone in protest as teammate Eric Reid knelt with him on the sideline in apparent solidarity. Both were showered with boos. As it turned out, the game was also the Chargers' annual "Salute to the Military" night. The national anthem was sung by a naval officer as hundreds of military personnel held a giant US flag.

Former Green Beret and Seattle Seahawks long snapper Nate Boyer tweeted a picture with the quarterback before the game. On Wednesday, Boyer wrote an open letter to Kaepernick about the situation, and Kaepernick invited him to Thursday's game.

Kaepernick later told reporters he and Reid talked to Boyer: "'How can we get the message back on track? And not take away from the military...But keep the focus on what the issues really are.'

"As we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee, because there are issues that still need to be addressed. And, it was also a way to try to show more respect to the men and women that fight for this country."

Despite the jeers from a half-empty Qualcomm Stadium, Kaepernick led an impressive 16-play, 86-yard opening drive for a touchdown as the Niners took an early 6-0 lead. Despite the controversy, the multimillionaire is still battling for a starting job and maybe even a roster spot. The Niners beat the Chargers 31-21. Meanwhile, in support of Kaepernick, Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane also didn't stand during the National Anthem prior to a preseason game against the Raiders in Oakland.

As he did in the Niners' previous three preseason games, Kaepernick has boycotted the anthem to bring awareness to what he said is racial injustice toward minorities. His actions drew scant notice until the team's final home preseason game at Levi's Stadium against the Green Bay Packers last Friday.

Kapernick has been a target sparking both national praise and scorn after telling NFL.com: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. 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."

Meanwhile, as Kaepernick was being called unpatriotic, antimilitary and outright disrespectful, members of the military and veterans rallied to his defense on social media with the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick, which began trending worldwide.

Also Thursday, Kaepernick faced more scrutiny after it was learned he wore "pig cop" socks during a practice before he began protesting the anthem. Kaepernick took to Instagram to say he wore them because there are "rogue cops" who are putting people in danger.

This led to a police department in Vermont to share its displeasure on Twitter:

Yet another Twitter user, Martin Graham, who works for the NBA's Orlando Magic , thinks Kaepernick may soon be the creator of another hashtag:

Oh, by the way, Kaepernick did stand during a rendition of "God Bless America" before the start of the fourth quarter during Thursday's game. He later said he plans to donate $1 million to organizations focusing on social issues.

Updated Sept. 2 at 6:35 a.m. PT: Added comments from Kaepernick and other details.