Source: The Wild Card / www.westernjournal.com / Todd Windsor /
Colin Kaepernick has antagonized many Americans with his divisive national anthem protests, his police-as-pigs socks, his defense of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and his $25,000 donation to a group honoring a convicted cop-killer.
But his actions have earned him accolades overseas — including the highest commendation from the human rights organization Amnesty International.
The former 49ers quarterback was honored with the group’s Ambassador of Conscience award at a ceremony Saturday in Amsterdam.
It is called the organization’s “highest honor, recognizing individuals who have promoted and enhanced the cause of human rights through their lives and by example.”
.@nytimes on @Kaepernick7’s acceptance of our Ambassador of Conscience Award. https://t.co/TnpHe0vMSL
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) April 21, 2018
“The Ambassador of Conscience award celebrates the spirit of activism and exceptional courage, as embodied by Colin Kaepernick,” said Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International. “He is an athlete who is now widely recognized for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination.
“Just like the Ambassadors of Conscience before him, Colin Kaepernick chooses to speak out and inspire others despite the professional and personal risks. When high profile people choose to take a stand for human rights, it emboldens many others in their struggles against injustice. Kaepernick’s commitment is all the more remarkable because of the alarming levels of vitriol it has attracted from those in power.”
Previous winners of the award include former South African leader Nelson Mandela, former Czech President Vaclav Havel and the Irish rock band U2.
Kaepernick began his protest before a 2016 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers when he sat on the bench during 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 explained after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Afterward, he took a knee in protest during the anthem before each game, and San Francisco teammate Eric Reid joined him.
Amnesty International described Kaepernick’s actions as “a respectful way of calling for the country to protect and uphold the rights of all its people” and a “response to the disproportionate numbers of black people being killed by police.”
Reid presented Kaepernick with the award Saturday, the organization said.
“I would like to thank Amnesty International for the Ambassador of Conscience Award,” Kaepernick said, according to the group. “But in truth, this is an award that I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force. To quote Malcolm X, when he said that he, ‘will join in with anyone — I don’t care what color you are — as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth,’ I am here to join with you all in this battle against police violence.
Amnesty Intl apparently supports division, disrespect, & whining.
— Rowdy (@urarowdy1) April 21, 2018
“While taking a knee is a physical display that challenges the merits of who is excluded from the notion of freedom, liberty, and justice for all, the protest is also rooted in a convergence of my moralistic beliefs, and my love for the people.”
Kaepernick has remained a free agent since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers last year. He claims it’s because he’s being blackballed by NFL owners in response to his protests, and he filed a collusion grievance against the league.