New York Daily News

Colin Kaepernick visits Rikers Island, sparks new feud with correction officers union 


Colin Kaepernick walked off the sidelines Tuesday — and onto Rikers Island — for a surprise visit with jail inmates that’s sparked a new battle in the NFL protest movement.

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was at the city jail to speak to detainees inside the George Motchan Detention Center, according to jail insiders.

Kaepernick’s 2016 decision to kneel during the National Anthem in protest of racial injustice and police brutality quickly became a lightning rod this fall, drawing praise from supporters — many of whom took a knee in solidarity — and vocal criticism from others, including President Trump.

His presence Tuesday at Rikers drew an immediate rebuke from the union representing city correction officers, which promptly yanked its sponsorship of a Christmas tree lighting celebration.

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Colin Kaepernick visited inmates inside the George Motchan Detention Center on Tuesday. Image by: Slaven Vlasic/(Credit too long, see caption)

"This will only encourage inmates to continue to attack Correction Officers at a time when we need more protection," said Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association.

Furious union leaders noted socks Kaepernick wore in September 2016 depicting cops as little cartoon pigs in explaining their opposition.

"Once again, correction officers find themselves caught in Mayor de Blasio's political con-game,” Husamudeen said. “This is yet another brazen display of the hypocrisy of this mayor who pretends to support us in public, yet does everything possible to jeopardize our security in private."

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The Dallas Cowboys, led by owner Jerry Jones, center, take a knee prior to the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.
Members of the Los Angeles Chargers link arms and stand in unity during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Some players raised their fists in the air before the Sept. 24, 2017 game, just two days after Trump's widely-condemned comments regarding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
Other members of the Los Angeles Chargers sat during the national anthem before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at StubHub Center on Sept. 24, 2017.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Marcus Peters (22) sits during the national anthem before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 24, 2017. His teammates Charcandrick West (35) and Roy Miller (98) showed their support by holding their hands on his back.
Members of the Green Bay Packers stand with arms locked as a sign of unity during the national anthem prior to their game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lambeau Field on Sept. 24, 2017.
Members of the Cincinnati Bengals also stand with arms locked during the national anthem prior to their game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Sept. 24, 2017.
Buffalo Bills players take a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos on Sept. 24, 2017. The symbolic kneel comes two days after Trump's harsh comments on players who don't stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner." NFL player Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem last year as a way to peacefully protest police brutality against African Americans in America.
Many players were expected to kneel during the Sunday games after the President said NFL owners should fire those who decided to protest against racial injustice and police brutality by taking a knee during "The Star Spangled Banner." "Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. Out, you're fired!" Trump said on Sept. 22, 2017.
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Kaepernick, however, has been hailed by inmate advocates who cite his outspoken calls for criminal justice reforms.

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"Colin Kaepernick visited Rikers today to share a message of hope and inspiration," said Correction Department spokesman Peter Thorne, who noted the visit was not unusual and didn't cost anything.

It was unclear if the mayor approved the sidelined QB’s visit, but all group jail visits must be cleared by top department brass.

Kaepernick’s presence Tuesday at Rikers drew an immediate rebuke from the union representing city correction officers. Image by: Anthony DelMundo/New York Daily News

Despite solid play on the field last year, Kaepernick, a free agent, was not signed by any of the National Football League's 32 teams this year. In October, he filed a grievance against the league, arguing team owners upset over his sideline protest colluded to keep him out. That case is pending.

Glenn Martin, founder of JustLeadershipUSA, a group advocating for the closure of Rikers, defended Kaepernick's visit.

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"The world should see the hell that is Rikers Island," he said. "Colin's profile has helped shed light where it is needed. The fact that correction officers are more focused on his socks while people are getting their brains bashed in is despicable."

He added, "Colin understands that the systemic racism he's fighting nationally is epitomized on Rikers."