Filmmaker Spike Lee ("Chi-raq") took a break from his New York City sports fandom to promote an August 23 rally at the National Football League’s (NFL) Manhattan headquarters. The action targets the league’s seeming punishment of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who spent much of the last season protesting racist police violence by taking one knee during the national anthem and financing racial justice causes.
— Spike Lee (@SpikeLee) August 8, 2017
Lee tweeted the image above yesterday (August 8) before issuing multiple tweets clarifying his non-involvement in the protest’s organization, as well as his suspicions regarding Kaepernick’s continued free agency—the text from which he also published in the following Instagram post:
People Let’s Get The Story Straight. I Fully Support My Brother KAP 100 Percent. I However Find His Situation Very Suspect. How Is It Possible That All 32 Teams In The NFL (NO FREEDOM LEAGUE) Can’t Or Won’t Find A Spot For Number 7 On Their Rosters With His Proven Talent? Do Some Research And Peruse The Current Rosters Of All 32 NFL Teams And Check Out Who Are Their 2nd And 3rd String Quarterbacks (And There Are Teams That He Could Be The Starting QB) . After Doing That, Scratch And Shake Ya Head. Now About This Rally, I First Heard About The United We Stand Rally This Morning. I Did Not Organize It, This Is Not My Brainchild. I Don’t Know Who Started This, But It Wasn’t Me. The Fact Is I Can’t Even Make It To The Rally. I Have A Shoot The Very Same Day Which Was Planned 2 Weeks Ago That I CAN NOT Reschedule. Nonetheless I Will Be There In Spirit And Solidarity. I Truly Hope And Pray That 1 Courageous Owner And General Manager Will Step Up And DO THE RIGHT THING. Kap Needs To Be In Uniform In The NFL For The 2017-18 Season. Onward And Upward, Spike Lee. YA DIG – SHO-NUFF? And Dats Da "COLLUSION" TRUTH, RUTH
"United We Stand: Rally for Colin Kaepernick" was organized by a coalition of advocacy and faith-based groups and sports figures working with The People’s Consortium for Human and Civil Rights. The organization explains in an emailed statement that the action will protest NFL teams’ ongoing refusal to sign Kaepernick, despite his previous success as the 49ers’ starting quarterback (including a Super Bowl appearance).
"It is clear [that] the NFL’s intent to make an example out of Colin Kaepernick is rooted in White supremacy, which dismisses the reality of the dehumanization of Black bodies in America," The People’s Consortium’s president Rev. Stephen A. Green says in the statement. The announcement adds that the action will kick off an ongoing nonviolent direct action campaign against the league.
Kaepernick’s actions inspired a high-profile mix of solidarity, criticism and vitriol throughout the last NFL season. The 49ers released Kaepernick after the conclusion of the season, and Bleacher Report reports that teams including the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks expressed interest, but have not committed to signing him. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told ESPN in June that he believed Kaepernick should start on a team, but ultimately did not wish to sign him. Many critics like Lee and Rev. Green believe the NFL, whose team owners are almost exclusively White men, wishes to punish him for speaking out against structural racism. The NFL has yet to publicly comment on Kaepernick’s continued free agency, but a 2016 Bleacher Report article cited anonymous league executives who said his actions angered most of the NFL’s front office staff. "He has no respect for our country," said one of the executives. "Fuck that guy."
Check out the rally’s Facebook page for more details.