U.S.

All-White Wisconsin GOP Won’t Honor Black History Month and Colin Kaepernick

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin’s State Assembly blocked a Black History Month resolution until former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s name was removed.

The resolution, drafted by the Assembly’s black caucus, honored prominent black Americans, including Reggie Jackson, Condoleeza Rice and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist James Causey.

Democratic Representative David Crowley, who wrote the resolution, described the demand as “textbook example of white privilege” and a “slap in the face.” “I had to get the blessing of all of my white counterparts,” Crowley told the Journal Sentinel.

“It’s outrageous that some Republicans feel they can censor African American legislators in this way,” the resolution’s co-author, Senator Lena Taylor, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “So while we celebrate the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, evidently the Republicans don’t think the 1st Amendment rights should be afforded to African Americans.”

Republican and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the Republicans objected to Kaepernick’s inclusion “for obvious reasons.”

In 2016, Kaepernick, who hailed from Milwaukee and had donated tens of thousands of dollars to local youth programs there, began sitting during the playing of the national anthem in NFL preseason games to protest systemic racism and police brutality against black Americans. He later switched to kneeling during the anthem after talking with military veterans about the proper way to protest. That same year, police killed 963 people, 234 of which were black, or a ratio about double the proportion of the African-American population in the U.S. Kaepernick’s protest began five weeks after a police officer in Minnesota shot school nutritionist Philando Castile as he reached for his driver’s license. Castile had been stopped 52 times by the police before his death.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Other players began joining Kaepernick in protest, and the NFL initially affirmed their right to do so, releasing a statement saying, “Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.”

Kaepernick’s protest soon became a major campaign issue for Republican candidate and now president Donald Trump, who said in a September speech, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired!’”

As right-wing anger against the protest rose, Vice President Mike Pence arranged a demonstration of his own, walking out of a Colts and 49ers game to protest the protest, at an estimated cost of $325,000 for hotel, travel and security measures coordinated between Homeland Security and the Secret Service. His assertion that it wasn’t a premeditated stunt deflated when it was revealed a photo he used on social media was taken from a previous Colts game in 2014.

“I think it’s important to recognize the contributions of literally thousands and thousands of African Americans to our state’s history, but also trying to find people who, again, bring us together. Not look at people who draw some sort of vitriol from either side,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The resolution passed the State Assembly nearly unanimously after Kaepernick’s name was excised. The sole exception, voting against the amended resolution, was Democratic Representative LaKeshia Myers, who told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Whether you dislike the method that he used, understand that it is a part of America’s DNA—not just African-Americans’ protest.”

The Wisconsin State Senate is expected to vote on the resolution Wednesday. There are no black Republicans in the Wisconsin state legislature.

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