OAKLAND – The peaceful protest movement ignited last month by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has found another ally: Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
Kerr on Wednesday expressed strong support for the message Kaepernick hopes to send to Americans – particularly those in law enforcement – by kneeling during the national anthem as a means to shed light on the issue of police brutality.
“Probably one of the best things that’s come out of the Kaepernick issue is that people are talking. It’s a good thing,” Kerr said during a pre-camp news conference at the Warriors facility. “No matter what side of the spectrum you’re on, I would hope that every American is disgusted with what is going on around the country. And it just happened two days ago in Tulsa, with Terence Crutcher.
“It doesn’t matter what side you’re on with the Kaepernick stuff, you’d better be disgusted by the things that are happening.”
Crutcher is the latest victim in a spate of videotaped police killings of unarmed black citizens. Kaepernick has stated this cause as the essence of his protest. In return, he has been vilified by some and said he has received death threats in response for his perceived disrespect of the anthem and the American flag.
“I understand people who are offended by his stance,” Kerr said. “Maybe they have a military family member, who is offended. Maybe they lost somebody in a war, and that flag and the anthem means a lot more to them than to someone else.
“But then you flip it around and ... ‘What about non-violent protest?’ It’s America. This is what our country is about it. It’s non-violent protest. It’s what it should be about.”
Kerr said he has spoken with several Warriors about the issue and that there will be further dialogue as the team approaches training camp next week, its preseason opener on Oct. 1 and its regular-season opener on Oct. 25.
Kerr also added that he expects some type of peaceful demonstrations within the NBA.
Referencing Kaepernick’s decision to kneel instead of sit during the anthem, a choice made after meeting with former Green Beret Nate Boyer, Kerr thought it sharpened the quarterback’s message.
“Colin, when he met with Nate Boyer and decided to kneel instead of sit, acknowledged his respect for military and really clarified the message that what this is really about is unarmed black people being killed, indiscriminately, around the country – and then it happens again two days ago,” Kerr said. “That’s the message. That’s what matters.
“The other stuff, you can talk about all day. Nobody’s right, nobody’s wrong. But that matters. And everybody should be trying to do something, whatever is in their power, to help in that regard.”