Obama says Kaepernick is ‘exercising his constitutional right’

President Barack Obama said on Monday that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is “exercising his constitutional right” by making the choice to sit during the national anthem.

“I’ve got to confess that I haven’t been thinking about football while I’ve been over here and I haven’t been following this closely,” Obama said during a press conference in Hangzhou, China. “But my understanding, at least, is that he’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement. I think there’s a long history of sports figures doing so.”

Kaepernick refused to stand during the rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the 49ers preseason games to protest the police brutality and racial injustice African Americans have had to face. Kaepernick’s actions have caused a lot of controversy and outrage among Americans with some including presidential nominee Donald Trump, saying that he should leave the country.

“As a general matter, when it comes to the flag the national anthem and the meaning that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who've fought for us -- that is a tough thing for them to get past to then hear what his deeper concerns are,” Obama said.

“But I don’t doubt his sincerity, based on what I’ve heard. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about. And if nothing else, what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about," he added.

Kaepernick was joined in his protest by teammate Eric Reid, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane and women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe.

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