49ers strong safety Eric Reid penned an op-ed in the New York Times on Monday afternoon, in which he describes why he and Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee for the national anthem last year.
In the post, Reid says that the killing of Alton Sterling in Reid’s hometown of Baton Rouge disturbed him, and brought him to tears. A few weeks later, Kaepernick sat during the national anthem, and once Kaepernick started facing backlash, Reid says his faith moved him to join Kaepernick.
Here’s part of what Reid wrote:
I approached Colin the Saturday before our next game to discuss how I could get involved with the cause but also how we could make a more powerful and positive impact on the social justice movement. We spoke at length about many of the issues that face our community, including systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system. We also discussed how we could use our platform, provided to us by being professional athletes in the N.F.L., to speak for those who are voiceless.
After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former N.F.L. player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.
It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel. We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest.
Reid mentions meeting with Nate Boyer, who was a United States Army Green Beret who served six years and numerous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a former NFL player. Boyer tweeted back in September of 2016 about the visit:
Thanks for the invite brother… Good talk. Let's just keep moving forward. This is what America should be all about pic.twitter.com/LgjPpjk173
— Nate Boyer (@NateBoyer37) September 2, 2016
Reid goes on to say that he loves the United States, and that he’s proud to be an American. He added, “But, to quote James Baldwin, ‘exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.’”
He also pointed out was his disappointment in Donald Trump referring to the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as “very fine people.” Reid said, “His remarks are a clear attempt to deepen the rift that we’ve tried so hard to mend.”
This weekend, Trump told his supporters at a rally in Alabama that NFL owners who see players taking a knee for the national anthem should say, “get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired.” It led to many demonstrations across the league, some in unity, some in protest, and some not showing up for the national anthem at all.
Reid is in his fifth year in the NFL, all with the 49ers. Through two games played this season, he’s recorded eight tackles for Kyle Shanahan’s defense.