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49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick defends national anthem protest

Star-spangled controversy: Outrage grows over Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand during the national anthem

San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Sunday defended his decision not to stand for the national anthem at a game two days earlier, saying he is protesting on behalf of people oppressed because of their race.

"This country stands for freedom, liberty, justice for all — and it's not happening for all right now," Kaepernick said.

Kaepernick did not stand as the national anthem played before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers. The move sparked criticism, and some fans posted videos of themselves burning Kaepernick jerseys and other apparel.

Related: Colin Kaepernick throughout the years

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SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers congratulates Brandon Marshall #15 of the Chicago Bears following the game at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers congratulates Brandon Marshall #15 of the Chicago Bears following the game at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers congratulates Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears following the game at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 21: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers throws a pass during the second quarter of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 21: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick calls a play during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers runs drills on the field prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers stands on the field prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes during the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes during the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes during the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes during the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers throws an interception during the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers throws an interception during the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Blaine Gabbert #2 and Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers head to the field prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Levi Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Bears defeated the 49ers 28-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the Chicago Bears at Levi's Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during the second quarter of their game against the Chicago Bears at Levi's Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during the first quarter of their game against the Chicago Bears at Levi's Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on during the first quarter of their game against the Chicago Bears at Levi's Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers looks to pass during the first quarter of a game against the Chicago Bears at Levi's Stadium on September 14, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 07: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers during the NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 7, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. The 49ers defeated the Cowboys 28-17. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX- AUGUST 28: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers on the sidelines agains the Houston Texans in a pre-season NFL game on August 28, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before playing the Houston Texans in a pre-season game at Reliant Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before playing the Houston Texans in a pre-season game at Reliant Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before playing the Houston Texans in a pre-season game at Reliant Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before playing the Houston Texans in a pre-season game at Reliant Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 28: Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before playing the Houston Texans in a pre-season game at Reliant Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Houston, Texas, USA. 28th Aug, 2014. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) prior to an NFL preseason game between the Houston Texans and the San Francisco 49ers at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX on August 28th, 2014. © Trask Smith/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News
April 29, 2011 - Turlock, California, U.S. - (Debbie Noda/dnoda@modbee.com) - Parents Teresa and Rick with their son Colin Kaepernick wearing a 49er cap at their Turlock home after in the 2nd round of the NFL draft he was picked by the San Francisco. (Credit Image: © Debbie Noda/Modesto Bee/ZUMAPRE
April 29, 2011 - Turlock, California, U.S. - (Debbie Noda/dnoda@modbee.com) - Colin Kaepernick in the 2nd round of the NFL drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. (Credit Image: © Debbie Noda/Modesto Bee/ZUMAPRESS.com)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick speaks during a press conference at the New Orleans Marriott in New Orleans, Louisiana, Sunday, January 27, 2012. The 49ers will face the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Feb. 3. (Jane Tyska/Oakland Tribune/MCT)
Turlock, CA, USA. 2nd May, 2014. Colin Kaepernick talks with on of the teens at Jessica's House in Turlock CA during a quick visit. Jessica's House provides free support in a safe place for children, teen and their families grieving a death. © Marty Bicek/ZUMAPRESS.com/Alamy Live News
Turlock, CA, USA. 2nd May, 2014. Colin Kaepernick took a second to pose for a group photo with several kids at Jessica's House in Turlock CA. Jessica's House provides free support in a safe place for children, teen and their families grieving a death. © Marty Bicek/ZUMAPRESS.com/Alamy Live News
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Kaepernick's protest comes amid increased scrutiny over police use of force against African-American men and other minorities.

NBC Sports: 49ers QB Refuses to Stand for National Anthem

Kaepernick said "police brutality" was one of the reasons he sat during the anthem.

"This is because I'm seeing things happen to people that don't have a voice, people that don't have a platform to talk and have their voices heard and effect change," the quarterback said. "So I'm in a position where I can do that, and I'm going to do that for people that can't."

The 49ers in a statement called the national anthem a "special part of the pre-game ceremony" and "an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens," but said it respects the right of an individual not to participate.

The NFL said in a statement Saturday: "Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem."

Kaepernick acknowledged that some took his gesture as insulting the military but said "that wasn't my intention at all."

Kaepernick said he will continue to sit during the anthem before NFL games. He said he has a platform to get his message across that others may lack.

This is the first year Kaepernick has sat during the national anthem. He said it was not tied to the presidential election, but described both candidates as being part of the problems he is protesting.

"I mean, you have Hillary, who has called black teens or black kids super predators. You have Donald Trump, who's openly racist," Kaepernick said.

Hillary Clinton in an April CNN debate said she regretted the use of that terminology, which she used in 1996 while defending her husband's 1994 crime bill. Trump has denied he is a racist.

Kaepernick said he did not plan on the protest to get so much attention, but added, "the fact that it has blown up like this, I think is a good thing."

"Now I think people are really talking about it, having conversations about how to make change, what's really going on in this country and we can move forward," Kaepernick said.

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