Former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch shared his thoughts on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest on Conan O’Brien's show on Tuesday.
“With what’s going on, I’d rather see him take a knee than stand up, put his hands up, and get murdered,” Lynch said.
Kaepernick made headlines on Aug. 26 when he did not stand as the anthem played before a game. He later explained that he wanted to shed light on the deeply rooted issue of police brutality and racial discrimination across the country.
Despite heavy criticism, the protest has gained a nationwide support from professional and amateur athletes of various sports who are sitting, kneeling, or raising their fists in the air while the song plays.
Before he retired in February, Lynch was known for being decidedly tight-lipped with the media — he once said during a press conference that he was only there so he “won’t get fined” — but the Oakland, California, native said Tuesday that Kaepernick’s protest was a necessary starting point for a larger conversation.
“My take on it is: *****s gotta start somewhere, and if that was the starting point, I just hope people open up they eyes to see that it’s really a problem going on, and something needs to be done for it to stop,” he said.
“And if you’re not racist, then you won’t see what he’s doing as a threat to America, but just addressing the problem that we have,” he added.
Lynch's comments came the day after Tulsa police released a video of an officer fatally shooting Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, and the same day police in Charlotte shot and killed a black man they said was armed.
On Wednesday, the St. Louis Dispatch released a video capturing the moment an officer fatally shot a black man in 2011. Prosecutors have said that the cop can be heard saying that he was "going to kill this motherfucker" during the pursuit.