The police chief for the agency that patrols San Francisco 49ers' Levi’s Stadium urged the police union upset over quarterback Colin Kaepernick's actions to back away from their boycott threat on Saturday.
Chief Michael J. Sellers didn’t specifically say that his officers would work 49ers home games, according to a statement sent to USA TODAY Sports on Saturday. Sellers, however, did say there would be no security concerns.
“I will urge the (Santa Clara Police Officers' Association) leadership to put the safety of our citizens first,” Sellers said. “I will work with both sides to find a solution. In the meantime, I will ensure we continue to provide a safe environment at Levi’s Stadium.”
The Santa Clara Police Officers' Association threatened its officers could chose not to work security details at Levi’s Stadium and 49ers headquarters in response to Kaepernick's pregame protest of not standing for the national anthem, his comments about police brutality and his controversial choice of socks. The letter penned by the police union was sent to the 49ers on Friday.
“Many of us in the law enforcement community have been saddened and angered by Kaepernick's words and actions,” Sellers said. “His blanket statements disparaging the law enforcement profession are hurtful and do not help bring the country together. As distasteful as his actions are, these actions are protected by the Constitution. Police officers are here to protect the rights of every person, even if we disagree with their position."
Reached vie email on Saturday, interim police union president Frank Saunders referred all questions back to the letter sent to the 49ers. NBC Bay Area was the first outlet to report on the union's letter on Friday.
About 70 Santa Clara police officers staff home games.
The 49ers are scheduled to open the season at Levi's Stadium against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday, Sept. 12, as part of a national television doubleheader.
Niners safety Eric Reid, who joined Kaepernick by taking a knee during the national anthem before Thursday night’s game in San Deigo, took aim at police brutality, posting a video on Twitter on Saturday of a student at a South Carolina high school being forcefully removed from her desk by an officer last year.
Reid followed that with this tweet: “Some have eyes but do not see & ears but do not hear,” Reid wrote. “Nothing justifies what happened in that video. He is an officer & she is a child.”
Kaepernick was photographed Wednesday wearing socks that displayed cartoon pigs wearing police hats. He said he has worn them before, but this time the socks grabbed national attention, coming just five days after it also became known that he has chosen to sit during the national anthem before 49ers’ games.
The socks — along with Kaepernick's comments on police brutality — were mentioned in the letter.
"It was learned by the members of the SCPOA that the 49er organization has been allowing Mr. Kaepernick to wear exposed socks with the image of a pig wearing a police hat during practices at the training camp in Santa Clara," the union said in the letter. "Photos of Mr. Kaepernick wearing these socks with the derogatory image have been broadcast nationally."
The 49ers, according to NBC Bay Area's report, said Friday they continue to stand behind the statement they first made when Kaepernick’s protest was first publicized.
In that statement, the team said, "In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose to participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."