CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Ald. James Balcer, police officials and veterans held a press conference and rally Saturday to urge San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to stand for the national anthem when his team plays the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field.
The rally was held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Gold Star Families Memorial and Park near Soldier Field, WBBM’s Mike Krauser reports.
“While we respect Colin Kaepernick’s right to express his views, we asked him to be sensitive while at Soldier Field to the sacrifices made by those who defended his freedom and their families,” said Balcer, a Vietnam War veteran and retired alderman who’s organizing the rally.
Balcer emphasized Soldier Field is a memorial to all the men and women who have fought for the country and died. He added it’s wrong for Kapernick to protest there and is an insult to their memories and families.
Kaepernick has refused to stand for the national anthem, in a protest against police killings of black people and other abuses. His protest has resulted in news headlines. He donated to the local chapter of the Black Youth Project 100 in November, the Sun-Times reported.
Jim Frazier, who lost a son in Afghanistan, said Kapernick doesn’t understand the emotional harm he’s doing. He noted that some high school football players have picked up Kapernick’s protest, taking the same approach, and he said that’s just bad for the country.
Balcer said Kapernick can leave if he doesn’t like the freedom and opportunity that allows him to earn $19 million a year.
“Not standing during the national anthem on these hallowed grounds would be disrespectful and hurtful to thousands of families who lost loved ones,” Balcer said.
He suggested Kaepernick either stay in the locker room during the national anthem or stand and show respect for the flag.
A small group supporting Kaepernick said Balcer and the police are trying to muzzle criticism and shove patriotism down people’s throats.
The Bears (2-9) take on the 49ers (1-10) on Sunday at noon at Soldier Field.