The fact that people are still talking about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the national anthem Friday is testament to the power the anthem still manages to command. Kaepernick explained later that to him, the anthem represents a nation where police officers are “getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Plenty have weighed in on that belief and Kaepernick’s right to free speech (hard-won by others), but perhaps the most powerful testimony yet comes from an open letter to Kaepernick posted to Facebook by a retired officer who himself was on paid leave after a fatal shooting. It’s a first-person perspective on the controversy that demands to be heard.
The complete note from the Massachusetts Coalition of Police reads, “Check out this open letter from a retired police officer to SF49’s Colin Kaepernick … thank you to Chris Amos for making such a clear statement.”
Thank you indeed. The complete letter from Amos, a retired Norfolk police officer, is too long to republish here, but we’ll highlight some of the best bits and encourage everyone to read the complete post and perhaps leave a comment on Amos’ Facebook page, which has been shared more than 5,000 times since it went live Monday morning. Buckle in:
I’ve read your statement a few times and want you to know I am one of the reasons you are protesting. You see I am a retired police officer that had the misfortune of having to shoot and kill a 19-year-old African American male. And just like you said, I was the recipient of about $3,000 a month while on leave which was a good thing because I had to support a wife and three children under 7-years-old for about 2 months with that money. Things were pretty tight because I couldn’t work part time. Every police officer I’ve ever known has worked part-time to help make ends meet.
You know Colin the more I think about it the more we seem to have in common …. We both also know what it’s like to get blindsided. You by a 280- pound defensive end, ouch! Me, by a couple of rounds fired from a gun about 2 feet away, into my chest and thigh. We also both make our living wearing uniforms, right? You have probably ruined a jersey or two on the field of play. I still have my blood stained shirt that my partner and paramedics literally ripped off my back that cold night in January…. We also have both experienced the hate and disgust others have just because of those uniforms we wear. I sure am glad for your sake that the folks who wear my uniform are on hand to escort you and those folks that wear your uniform into stadiums in places like Seattle!
Colin I have buried 7 friends, killed in the line of duty and three others who have committed suicide. I have attended more funerals than I care to remember of neighboring departments who have lost officers in the line of duty, during my career. Law Enforcement Officers with different backgrounds, upbringings, and experiences united by their willingness to answer the call to protect and serve their fellow citizens.
Colin I am sorry for the endorsement deals you may lose and the dip in jersey sales, but please know you will NEVER lose what these men and women and their families have lost. And so whether you stand or sit during the National Anthem or not means very little to me…. We will continue to protect and continue to serve and we will be standing at attention Colin, not just for the playing of our National Anthem, but far more importantly for the playing of Taps.
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