By Steven Tavares.
A week after voicing solidarity with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his decision to take a knee during the National Anthem, Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan sat during the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of Tuesday night’s meeting.
“I feel like the degree to which people have been hostile toward Mr. Kaepernick–in his very justified stance of sitting–has been so outrageous that I felt compelled to speak out,” Kaplan told the East Bay Citizen Tuesday night.
“It is essential that we continue the fight to call attention to racial injustice, and racial profiling, and killings of unarmed black people, which is still going on,” she added.
Kaplan issued a statement last week in support of Kaepernick after he sat during a pre-season game last month to protest systemic racial prejudice and police killings.
Aside from the press release, Kaplan gave no indication she was planning to sit during the pledge. She acknowledged Tuesday’s meeting was the first opportunity to do so.
Following the pledge, Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks, who was not yet at the dais, said she supports Kaplan’s decision to sit and will follow suit during subsequent meetings. Brooks also donned a Kaepernick jersey during the meeting.
Like the uproar by some towards Kaepernick’s protest, Kaplan could face some blow back from residents who believe the act is unpatriotic. She disagrees. “The notion that someone would be upset about someone sitting instead of being upset about someone getting killed is really unjust,” she said.
“Fundamentally, the right to speak out against injustice and to make statements against injustice by staging sit-ins, or by sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem, to me, is central with what American democracy is about. Not only is what he and the others who are doing this not wrong, it’s actually in the noblest of traditions of change-making in America,” said Kaplan.
The move by Kaplan is not without some political risk. Kaplan is up for re-election this November. While Kaplan’s re-election is not view as in doubt, it is likely the most competitive of the five council races this fall. “The risk that people are taking everyday of being subjected to racist violence is more important than whether it puts political risk to me.”