Colin Kaepernick transcript: His decision to sit during the national anthem explained

Colin Kaepernick Explains why he decided not to stand during the national anthem 

On Sunday, Colin Kaepernick spoke to reporters about his decision to sit during the national anthem. Video of the entire interview can be found here, and below is the transcript of that conversation: 

Reporter:  What are you trying to accomplish? What would you like to be the end game for you?

Kaepernick: Ultimately it’s to bring awareness and make people realize what’s really going on in this country. There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust, people aren’t being held accountable for and that’s something that needs to change. That’s something that this country stands for - freedom, liberty and justice for all - and it’s not happening for all right now.

Reporter: Is this something that’s evolved as a philosophy in your mind and how has it kinda progressed that you make a stand like this?

Kaepernick: It’s something that I’ve seen, I’ve felt. I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with originally. And it is something that’s evolved. It’s something that as I’ve gained more knowledge about what’s going on in this country – what’s going on in the past, what’s going on currently – these aren’t new situations, this isn’t new ground, these things have gone on in this country for years and years and have never been addressed and they need to be.

Reporter: Will you continue to sit?

Kaepernick: Yes, I will continue to sit. I will continue to stand with the people who are being oppressed. To me this is something that has to change and when there’s significant change, and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.

Reporter: Specifically, what would you like to see change in order for you to stand?

Kaepernick: There’s a lot of things that need to change. One specifically is police brutality. There’s people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. Cops are getting paid leave for killing people. That’s not right. That’s not right by anyone’s standards.

Reporter: People see the flag as a symbol of military. How do you view it and what do you say to those people?

Kaepernick: I have great respect for the men and women who have fought for this country. I have friends, I have family who have gone and fought for this country. And they fight for freedom, they fight for the people, they fight for liberty and justice for everyone, and that’s not happening. I mean, people are dying in vain because this country isn’t holding its end of the bargain up as far as – you know – giving freedom and justice and liberty to everybody. It’s something that’s not happening. I’ve seen videos, I’ve seen circumstances where men and women who have been in the military have come back and been treated unjustly by the country they fought for, and have been murdered by the country they fought for. On our land. That’s not right.

Reporter: Do you personally feel oppressed?

Kaepernick: There have been situations where I feel like I have been ill-treated, yes, but this stand wasn’t for me, wasn’t because I feel like I was put down in any kind of way. This is because I’m seeing things happen to people that don’t have a voice. People that don’t have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and affect change. I’m in a position where I can do that, and I’m gonna do that for people that can’t.

Reporter: Is this the first year you haven’t stood up? Have you done it other years or is this the first time?

Kaepernick: This is the first year that I’ve done this.

Reporter: You’ve done all the pre-season games so far?

Kaepernick: Yes

Reporter: This was the first time it was noticed?

Kaepernick: Yes

Reporter: How did your teammates respond when you explained yourself today and what was the support like for you?

Kaepernick: The support I’ve got from my teammates has been great. I think a lot of my teammates come from areas where this might be a situation. Their family might be put in this situation. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say ‘I really respect you for what you’re doing and what you’re standing for’ so to me it’s something that, I know what I’m doing is what’s right, I know other people see what I’m doing is right. It’s something that we have to come together, we have to unite, we have to unify and make a change.

Reporter: What do you say to people who say you’re doing the right thing, but you’re going about it the wrong way?

Kaepernick: I don’t understand how it’s the wrong way. To me, this is a freedom we’re allowed in this country. And going back to the military thing, it’s a freedom that men and women who have fought for this country have given me this opportunity by the contributions they have made. So I don’t see it as going about it the wrong way. This is something that has to be said, it has to be brought to the forefront of everyone’s attention and when that’s done I think people can realize what the situation is and really affect change.

Reporter: You’ve done it every preseason game. Are you almost relieved that it took this game and the questioning that followed to let your voice be heard?

Kaepernick: It’s wasn’t something I really planned as far as it blowing up. It’s something I personally decided. I just can’t stand for what it represents right now. It’s not right. And the fact that it has blown up like this, I think is a good thing. It brings awareness. Everybody knows what’s going on and this sheds more light on it. Now I think people are really talking about it, having conversations about what’s really going on in this country, how to make change, and we can move forward.

Reporter: Are you concerned that this could be seen as a blanket indictment of law enforcement in general?

Kaepernick: As far as what? I don’t understand what you’re trying to get at?

Reporter: You’re talking about people being murdered by police it seems like an indictment against police.

Kaepernick: There is police brutality. People of color have been targeted by police. So that’s a large part of it. And they’re government officials. They’re put in place by the government. So that’s something that this country has to change. There’s things we can do to hold them more accountable, hold those standards higher. You have people who practice school and are lawyers and go to school for eight years but you can become a cop in six months and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist. That’s insane. I mean someone holding a curling iron has more education and more training that people who have a gun and are going out on the street to protect us.

Reporter: Do you plan on doing stuff beyond sitting during the national anthem, as far as activism?

Kaepernick: Most definitely. There’s things I have in the works right now that I’m working on to put together in the future and have come to fruition soon. Those are things that I’ll talk about as we get closer to those days.
Reporter: You say this is a good thing this is blowing up now because it’s getting attention. Any concern about the timing of it, the critical part of training camp and the possibility of it being a distraction.

Kaepernick: No, I don’t see it as a distraction. I think it’s something that can unify this team and something that can unify this country. If we have these real conversations – that are uncomfortable for a lot of people – If we have these conversations there’s a better understanding of where both sides are coming from. And if we reach common ground and can understand what everyone is going through, we can really can effect change and make sure everyone is treated equally and has the same freedom.

Reporter: Has anyone from the league or the team told you to tone it down or anything? Because you’re speaking your mind right now and it doesn’t seem like anyone’s tried to quiet me.

Kaepernick: No, no one’s tried to quiet me. And to be honest, it’s not something I’m going to be quiet about; I’m going to speak the truth when I’m asked about it. This isn’t for a look, this isn’t for publicity or anything like that. This is for people who don’t have the voice. And this is for people who are being oppressed and need to have equal opportunities to be successful, to provide for their families and not live in poor circumstances.

Reporter: In your mind, have you been pulled over unjustly or had a bad experience in that regard?

Kaepernick: Yes, multiple times. I mean I’ve had times when one of my roommates was moving out of a house in college and because we were the only black people in that neighborhood, the cops got called and all of us had guns drawn on us. I mean, came in the house, without knocking, guns drawn on one of my teammate’s roommates. So I have experienced this. People close to me have experienced this. This isn’t something that’s a one off case here, a one off case there  - This has become habitual. It’s become a habit. So it’s something that needs to be addressed.

Reporter: (Inaudible) In the NFL, you’re a lone voice here as far as taking this stand. Why do you think you’re the only one doing this?

Kaepernick: I think there’s a lot of consequences that come along with this. There’s a lot of people who don’t want to have this conversation. They’re scared they might lose their job, or they might not get the endorsements, or they might not be treated the same way.  And those are things I’m prepared to handle and those are things that other people might not be ready for. It’s just a matter of where you’re at in your life and where your mind’s at. At this point, I’ve been blessed to be able to get this far and have the privilege of being in the NFL and making the kind of money I make, and having luxuries like that – But I can’t look in the mirror and see other people dying in the street that should have had the same opportunities that I’ve had, and say I can live with myself. Because I can’t if I just watch.

Reporter: Do you think you might get cut over this?

Kaepernick: I don’t know. But if I do, I know I did what’s right and I can live with that at the end of the day.

Reporter: Does any of this reflect your relationship with the 49ers or the NFL – Is any of this a part of that?

Kaepernick: No, this is about the way people have been treated by this country.

Reporter: When you addressed the team today, how long did you talk and what was the tone of it. It seemed like you were able to convert one person into your line of thinking who was a little skeptical.

Kaepernick: No it was a conversation, they asked me to talk and just explain why I did what I did, and why I felt the way I felt. And I had an open conversation with them. I told them why I felt that way and why I look at things the way I do. And a lot of it has to do with the history of the country and where we’re currently at. And I opened it up to all my teammates – Come talk to me if you have any questions. If you want to understand what I’m thinking, come talk to me. This isn’t something that should be hidden and shouldn’t be talked about. These conversations need to happen and I think they can bring everyone together closer.

Reporter: Were there a couple of guys that voiced, that felt, they were against what you’re doing.

Kaepernick: I’ve had people say, I want to understand further, let’s talk. I’ve had those conversations and will continue to have them with my teammates. But it’s something that the knowledge of what’s happened in this country and what’s currently happening, I think it’s something that everyone needs to know. And when you have the knowledge of those things then you can make an educated decision on what you really feel and what you want to stand for.

Reporter: Have you heard from politicians or people outside the sports world that say they support you?

Kaepernick: I’ve had a few people reach out. Quite a few actually, saying we really support you, we’re proud of you for taking that stand, we respect what you’re doing, we know a lots going to come with it, but we’re behind you. And that means a lot. It means I’m not the only one who feels this way and I’m not the only one who sees things this way.

Reporter: (inaudible) …Super Bowl this year. Are you guys talking more today about this or are you talking about your plan to get to the super bowl.

Kaepernick: No, we’re focused on football while we’re in meetings, while we’re on the field. That’s what our focus is. But in our free time we have conversations about this, and that’s not something we should be ashamed about or shy away from. We talk about football, we handle our business there. But there’s also a social responsibility we have to be educated on these things and talk about these things.
Reporter: Did you consider forming an alliance and getting teammates to join you? And if not, why did you decide to go it alone?

Kaepernick: This isn’t something I’m going to ask other people to put their necks out for. If they agree with me and feel strongly about it, then by all means I hope they stand with me. But I’m not going to go try and recruit people and say ‘hey come do this with me’ because I know the consequences that come with that. And they need to make that decision for themselves.

Reporter: Did you reach out to anyone before you did this to seek their counsel?

Kaepernick: This is a conversation I’ve had with a lot of people a lot of times, over a long period of time. So it wasn’t something that I planned on having a conversation about at a particular time. It just so happened that the other night is when people realized it and talked about it.

Reporter: Clearly you want to bring a voice to this issue, are you concerned that the talk in the past 24 hours has been about you and not necessarily the issue.

Kaepernick: I do think that the talk has been more about me. I know a lot of people’s initial reactions was that it was bashing the military, which it wasn’t. That wasn’t my intention at all. I think now that we have those things cleared up, we can get to the root of what I was saying and really address those issues.

Reporter: Since you’ve done this, do you know of other players who feel the same way but are not ready to step forward publicly?

Kaepernick: Yeah, I know there’s other players who feel the same way. I’ve had players reach out to me. Once again, it’s not something that I’m going to ask them to put their necks out. I know the consequences that come along with my decision and if they feel strongly about it and want to stand with me, then I hope they do. If it’s something they’re not ready for, then that’s what the conversations are for and they can make that decision when they’re ready, or if they’re ready.

Reporter: Do you feel you’ll be safe in some of the road cities you go to and will you take some precautions?

Kaepernick: I’m not really too concerned about that. At the end of the day, if something happens it’s only proving my point.

Reporter: Colin, the fact that this is an election year, does this have anything to do with the timing?

Kaepernick: Once again, it wasn’t a timing thing, it wasn’t something that was planned. But I think the two presidential candidates we currently have also represent the issue we have in this country right now.

Reporter: Do you want expound on that?

Kaepernick: I mean, you have Hillary who’s called black teens and black kids super predators. You have Donald Trump who’s openly racist. We have a presidential candidate whose deleted emails and done things illegally – and is a presidential candidate. That doesn’t make sense to me, because if that was any other person, you’d be in prison. So what is this country really standing for?

Reporter: It is a country that’s elected a black president twice. Can you see why people are saying why the outrage, when we have country who’s selected a black president and had done many things and sacrificed a lot of things for freedom.

Kaepernick: It has elected a black president, but there are also a lot of things that haven’t changed. There are a lot of issue that still haven’t been addressed. That’s something that over an eight year term, there are a lot of things that are hard to change and there are a lot of things that he doesn’t have complete control over.

Reporter: What would you say would be a success for you – just in the short term?

Kaepernick: That’s a tough question because there’s a lot of things that need to change. There’s a lot of different issues that need to be addressed. It’s really hard to lock down one specific thing that needs to change currently.

Reporter:  One last thing Colin, my wife’s a cosmetologist and she has very extensive training.

Kaepernick: (laughs) See it’s amazing to me that she has more training that officers who are supposed to be protecting people.