Sports writer Mike Freeman says that Colin Kaepernick's message against police brutality is more important than ever on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
What are the details?
In a Monday editorial in USA Today, Freeman says that Kaepernick, former NFL quarterback-turned-activist, continues to be relevant amid the chaos of the U.S. Capitol riot.
"Years before rioters stormed the Capitol," Freeman writes, "a crowd that allegedly included cops, Colin Kaepernick spoke of, no, he warned of the abuse of power by police."
In 2016, Kaepernick — ushering in the early days of kneeling protests — said, "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."
"As we celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., it's important to remember that Kaepernick, like King, warned us for years about the dangers of police abuse," Freeman explains. "This is especially important in light of how 13 off-duty police officers, according to the Washington Post, were part of the rioters that stormed the Capitol. According to NPR, the number of sworn police officers was actually 30."
Freeman adds, "To Kaepernick, some police have always been part of a mob, and the distance between those mobs, and the lawlessness of sacking one of the beacons of democracy, isn't miles. It's inches."
"If some police are willing to abuse the rights of one group of people," he continues, "it's only a matter of time before those same police start attacking others. Or even start attacking democracy."
Pointing to the purported officers' alleged involvement in the riots, Freeman muses, "[I]f a police officer takes part in a riot against a fortified building full of lawmakers, what would that same cop do to a black man at a traffic stop?"
Freeman, making a full-on comparison between Kaepernick and King, continues, "[I]f you don't think the threads between Kaepernick and King are real, you're wrong. While King is popular now, two-thirds of Americans disapproved of King. Many hated his blunt words on race, policing, and desegregation. The same is the case with some and Kaepernick and it's not unthinkable to see a future where Kaepernick is revered as a civil rights hero."
"In fact," he adds, "that transformation is already happening (and he's long been viewed this way by most black people)."
Freeman concludes, "Kaepernick has spent years speaking of police abuse. Like King, he was right. In fact, he may have been righter than we ever knew."