In what the San Francisco Chronicle is celebrating as a "surprise appearance" on Thursday, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick dropped in on the so-called "Unthanksgiving Day" festival put on by the Alcatraz Indigenous People's group to deliver a message of "resistance."
The festival, which has been held since 1975 in commemoration of the occupation of Alcatraz by 89 activists in 1969-71, is designed to protest America's mistreatment of Native Americans. In his comments at the festival, Kaepernick said his fight for what he has described as the systemic oppression of "black people and people of color" in America and the "Unthanksgiving" activists' cause is all a part of the same "resistance."
Kaepernick, who was accompanied by a camera crew, tweeted out a video documenting his call for continued activism and the honor bestowed up him by the leadership of the indigenous people's group.
"Today, I was on Alcatraz Island at the Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering, in solidarity with those celebrating their culture and paying respects to those that participated in the 19 month occupation of Alcatraz in an effort to force us to honor the Treaty of Fort Laramie," he tweeted.
"I realize that our fight is the same fight," said Kaepernick. "We're all fighting for our justice, for our freedom, and realizing that we're in this fight together makes it all the more powerful. If there's one thing that I take away from today and seeing the beauty of everybody out here, it's that we're only getting stronger every day, we're only getting larger and larger every day. I see the strength in everybody. The dancing, the rituals – that is our resistance. We continue to fight. We continue to fight for justice. We fight for our freedom, and we continue on that path."
Kaepernick started the anthem protest movement during the 2016 preseason when he was the backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He told reporters that he was "not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."
"To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way," he said. "There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
Since he first refused to stand for the anthem, Kaepernick's criticism of the United States has continued, even at one point suggesting Fidel Castro's dictatorial communist regime was preferable to American democracy. Since opting to become a free agent, Kaepernick remains unsigned, which he claims in a grievance filed against the league is due to illegal "collusion" among league executives. League insiders, however, say that he remains unemployed simply because his "borderline" talent is not worth the headache of all the distraction he brings.
Partial transcript via SFGate.