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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Where does responsibility come from? At what point can someone abandon his or her sworn obligations? While the discussion surrounding San Francisco 49ers football player Colin Kaepernick’s decision to lead a national protest is growing stale and tiresome, the reaction by the Santa Clara Police Department is so irresponsible, so reckless and so downright childish that a continuation of this discussion is sadly necessary.

The department has threatened to boycott San Francisco 49ers home games in response to Kaepernick’s protests. A letter published by the Santa Clara Police Officers Association called Kaepernick’s statements “incorrect and inflammatory.” While Kaepernick wearing socks depicting pigs in police regalia is perhaps disrespectful and distasteful, the statements he made regarding the relationship between black Americans and the legal system are not wrong.

Independent of all the mush we’ve been sifting through for the last few weeks, the decision by law enforcement agents — roughly 70 officers patrol the stadium on game days — to boycott the games is nothing more than whining.

The officers who supported that letter, declaring their potential protest had a lapse in judgment. These people are civil servants who have volunteered to protect and serve the communities in which they work. That obligation does not disappear because they disagree with something someone said.

The bottom of the letter reads, “Our members, however, have the right to do their job in an environment free of unjustified and insulting attacks.” Read that again. One more time. Are these officers talking about safe spaces? These officers need to learn that free speech should not be fenced in, and people are entitled to disagree with you.

Even without all the political crap included, withholding protection from nearly 70,000 fans in Levi’s Stadium, the press, the staff working the game, the teams and their coaching staffs, etc., is terrifyingly dangerous.

Here at UF, a new clear-bag policy has been enacted to ensure the safety of all spectators and players as well as those working on and off the field. Safety is becoming a bigger and bigger concern in this country, and the Santa Clara Police Department has threatened to s--- the bed here.

At Monday’s game, a fan at Levi’s Stadium ran onto the field and delayed the game before being apprehended by law-enforcement agents and stadium security. If this boycott were held, how crazy could situations like that get? How unbelievably out-of-hand could things be? Realistically, if such a boycott were to happen, it’s likely the game wouldn’t even make it to kickoff for security reasons. Imagine the nationwide pandemonium at millions of delayed fantasy football games!

In all seriousness, this issue is one we’ve seen before. Not long ago, police threatened to boycott Beyoncé’s concerts because her music’s overt political statements about police brutality. The statistics are as undeniable as they are scary.

If law-enforcement agencies really want to quell the stigmas and the stereotypes associated with them, threatening to further abandon the people they serve is not how to do it.

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