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Colin Kaepernick Says He's Gotten Death Threats for National Anthem Protest

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

The response to San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem has ranged from support -- from teammates, other NFL players, and even athletes in other sports -- to condemnation -- from aging rock stars and presidential candidates. And some of that response hasn't been so lighthearted.

Kaepernick says he's gotten death threats on social media and "a couple of different avenues." And if you needed a reminder, death threats are not OK -- not in terms of acceptable adult behavior and not legally, either.

Taking a Knee

Kaepernick says he hasn't passed on the threats to the 49ers security team, and appeared unfazed by the death threats. "To me, if something like that were to happen, you've proved my point and it will be loud and clear for everyone why it happened and that would move this movement forward at a greater speed than what it is even now," Kaepernick told reporters yesterday. "Granted, I don't want that to happen, but that's the realization of what could happen, and I knew there were other things that came along with this when I first stood up and spoke about it. That's not something I haven't thought about."

The quarterback, who began sitting during the anthem in the preseason to call attention to police brutality, also addressed the recent police shooting of unarmed black man Terrence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the context of his protest:

"I think it will be very, very telling what happens with the officer that killed him, what happens with [her] because everybody's eyes will be on [her]. For me, I think one of the things that I've noticed throughout this is there's a lot of racism in this country disguised as patriotism. People want to take everything back to the flag, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about racial discrimination, inequalities and injustices that are happening across the nation."

Making a Threat

Freedom of speech is not absolute; it has its limits. And one of those limits is making "true threats" against another person. Federal law prohibits transmitting "any threat to injure the person of another" and penalizes such threats with five years in prison. States also have statutes criminalizing death threats. So, regardless of your take on Kaepernick's protest (or anyone else's, for that matter), maybe refrain from threatening to kill him, especially on social media, where law enforcement can track you down.

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