SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid both took a knee Monday night during the national anthem before the team’s home opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
The Niners’ second string quarterback was joined by safety Reid on the sidelines during the performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by violinist Lindsey Sterling as he was at the team’s final preseason game in San Diego.
There were also several players who raised their fists including 49ers safety Antoine Bethea and linebacker Eli Harold as well as Rams defensive end Robert Quinn and wide receiver Kenny Britt.
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After the anthem, Kaepernick and Reid embraced before a number of teammates approached the pair to either shake hands or hug.
ESPN sideline reporters said there were some audible shouts for Kaepernick to stand during the anthem, but there did not appear to be any incidents in the stands.
The prime-time national broadcast of the game against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football only increased the scrutiny on Kaepernick’s actions.
Some fans in attendance told KPIX 5 they also planned to take a knee in the stands.
Greg Bellows came up from Compton to support Kaepernick.
“By him standing that way, it’s making everybody notice what he’s talking about,” said Bellows. “I ain’t going to stand with them. I’m going to kneel with him. We go through police brutality, you know what I mean? We lose people every day to police brutality.”
Activists with the Revolutionary Communist Party were handing out flyers at the Santa Clara Caltrain station encouraging those attending the game to keep their seats during the anthem.
The flyer, which was topped by the title “Top 10 Reasons to Sit Down for the Nasty-full Anthem –#sitdownfortherag,” offered a list of alleged wrongdoings committed by the United States dating back to the 1800s right up through modern times.
The protests are gaining strength around the league.
At Sunday’s Miami-Seattle game, the Seahawks stood but locked arms in solidarity while four Dolphins players took a knee during the playing of the national anthem.
In Kansas City, there was a flashback to the black power salute of the 1960’s as a chief’s player raised his gloved fist during the anthem.
Before the game in Arizona, two New England Patriots also raised their fists.
The protests have become the talk of the NFL.
“Not standing up for the national anthem…for it to catch on like that? And now for Kaepernick’s jersey sales are going up just because of that? For me, it’s just a distraction from the games we’re trying to play,” said fan Mario Martinez of Sacramento.
“A lot of people are saying that he’s right about it. A lot of people are saying he’s wrong about it,” said Darlene Muldrow of Los Angeles. “It’s a free country, it’s America. As far as I know everybody has an opportunity to express their opinion.”
Last week, there had been concern that Santa Clara police officers might boycott Monday night’s game because of Kaepernick’s ongoing protest.
However, Santa Clara officers were out in full force Monday afternoon, providing tactical teams and traffic control in and around Levi’s Stadium.
Late last week, Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor stepped in to encourage officers to work the game even though it’s a voluntary, overtime assignment.
“Public safety is number one here in our city,” said Gillmor. “The police officers association appreciate the fact that we acknowledge that they are a huge part of the success of the stadium. And so they are going to go back and do their job, a job they are proud of doing.”
But in agreeing to work the stadium the police union also expressed disappointment at the team’s management for ignoring the officers’ concerns.
While the 49ers’ executives protected a players rights, the union says the team did not acknowledge how the protests could harm officers.
Fans lining up outside to get into the game were just glad the police will be there.
“What’s football without cops?” asked Martinez. I’m just glad they are going to be here to protect us.”