Kaepernick Speaks Out After National Anthem Controversy

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took to one knee during the national anthem in the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium Thursday night.

The game happened to coincide with the 28th annual "Salute to the Military".

Kaepernick has been at the center of a controversy for refusing to stand during the national anthem. The quarterback says he is protesting against police brutality against the black community and people of color.

He spoke during a press conference following the game, saying he is not anti-American and that he supports all service members.

"I realize that men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put themselves in harms way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country and my freedom to take a seat or to take a knee," he said.

The quarterback was met with boos and chants of "U.S.A" for his refusal to stand during the national anthem. He was joined by teammate Eric Reid in the silent protest, which had many San Diegans riled up.

"I think Kaepernick is a damn fool. We live in America and you should have respect," said fan Juan Moreno.

But veterans like John Maccrossen defended Kaepernick's right to civil disobedience.

“While I don’t agree with his method of protest, that’s his right to do it," Maccrossen said.

“We did our jobs so people have a voice and can do that,” explained Marine Corps Veteran Samuel Carnibucci.

Meanwhile, Kaepernick says he did not mean to be disrespectful to the military but wants to bring attention to what he calls injustice in America because of police brutality.

During his interview, Kaepernick said he and his teammate Reid had a conversation with a veteran about how to bring the focus back onto the issue.

"We were talking to him about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, and not take away from pride in our country," he said.

But fans like Mike Lemons disagree.

"We’re proud of our soldiers that fight for us every day. It’s giving respect to them and has nothing to do with cops and judicial system,” Lemons told NBC 7.

Kaepernick said he is disappointed that people are focusing on the wrong issues and not his message.

"It takes us farther away from the end goal which is making the communities and this country a better place," he said.

Navy Veteran Shawn Vandiver said: “I fought for Americans’ right to assemble and protest. It’s part of citizens’ First Amendment right. Kaepernick was specifically protesting injustice for African Americans.”

But while Kaepernick continues to take a stand by kneeling and sitting down, some are wondering now that he's sparked the conversation, what's his solution.

“I don’t care what the cause is. Whether black, white, police, if you are going to make a stand you need to follow up and be part of solution,” said Mark Pacitti whose son-in-law is in the military.

Kaepernick said he is planning to take his protest further and is working with various organizations. He also plans to donate $1 million to different organizations that work with undeserved communities.

He did not specify the organizations.

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