MINNEAPOLIS— San Francisco 49ers strong safety Eric Reid has resumed his kneeling protest for human rights during the national anthem, after joining then-teammate Colin Kaepernick’s polarizing demonstration last season.
Reid knelt while the Star Spangled Banner was played at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota on Sunday night, when the 49ers took on the Vikings in an exhibition. Reed stood for the anthem during the team’s first two preseason games. He initially said he’d stopped because of frustration last year about the way the protest was portrayed and perceived by some factions of the public.
The change of heart, Reid said after the 32-31 victory by the Vikings , came after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12 resulted in the death of one counter-protester and injuries to many more.
“We’ve got to keep talking about the issues that are happening in this country,” Reid said. “That’s the only way things will change, if we keep shedding light on these topics. Our plan is to continue to do that.”
Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin was among the 49ers teammates who put a hand on Reid’s shoulder during the anthem.
“It’s no secret. All the things that are going on in America, especially being African-American, it’s just hard,” Goodwin said. “When you have somebody who chooses to take a knee, that’s just his right. So as a friend, as a brother, as a teammate, I wouldn’t want him to go through anything like that alone. So I had to go support him and let him and everybody else know that I do support him.”
Reid said he appreciated the solidarity. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said he had no problem with the demonstration. Reid said he thinks he’ll kneel all season. So what’s the goal?
“Change,” he said. “Accountability for officers that step outside the line. We want our president to be a president and not threaten to shut down the government over a wall. To change the oppression that happens in this country. It has no place in the world, let alone America. Our goal is to just keep talking about it. Hopefully we inspire people to do something about it through our protests. And this isn’t something that’s new. I’ve learned a lot of things throughout the past year about athletes that have talked about the same things that we’re talking about. So the goal is just to create some change.”
Kaepernick and Reid remain close. After a hard hit on Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen during the game, Reid kissed his flexed biceps muscle like Kaepernick used to do. The quarterback, who helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season, became a free agent this spring and has not been signed by another team . Other players around the league, like Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett , have staged their own anthem protests this month.