Former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick visited Rikers Island, one of the most most brutal prisons in the country, on Tuesday to meet with inmates. This infuriated some of the officers, and Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association, said he believed Kaepernick’s presence would encourage inmates to continue to attack officers at a time they need more protection.
“Once again, correction officers find themselves caught in Mayor de Blasio’s political con-game,” Husamudeen said. “This is yet another brazen display of the hypocrisy of this mayor who pretends to support us in public, yet does everything possible to jeopardize our security in private.”
Kaepernick, who once wore socks depicting cops as pigs in an NFL game, started the NFL “take a knee” protests, refusing to stand for the National Anthem. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told NFL Media in 2016.
Not everyone was upset with Kaepernick’s visit to the prison. One source described the atmosphere as calm, and said Kaepernick did not say anything derogatory about the police, but was telling inmates how they could do better in life.
“It’s not clear how Husamudeen decided that Kaepernick sharing an inspirational message with inmates meant that he was telling them to attack correction officers, but here we are,” Liz Roscher of Yahoo Sports said. “Kaepernick is an advocate for criminal justice reform, which in no way means he was calling for inmates to attack prison officers.”
According to the New York Post, Kaepernick spoke to inmates during two 45 minute sessions where he “pontificated on social justice issues” and talked about his decision to kneel during the national anthem.
One officer said it was crazy to have a person like Colin Kaepernick in prison talking about police brutality because “in the inmate’s eyes, we are the police when they’re locked up.”