While Obama did acknowledge that he respects the expression, he urged Kaepernick and other protesters to take into consideration how their actions might be affecting families of those in the military.
Earlier this month, President Obama defended Kaepernick, saying the actions are “his Constitutional right.”
On Wednesday, Obama expanded on that, saying that while he believes honoring the flag and the National Anthem is part of what unifies America, “part of what makes this country special is that we respect people’s rights to have a different opinion.”
That being said, he then called upon Kaepernick and fellow NFL players protesting to stop and think about the repercussions of their actions. “I want (the protesters) to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing,” he said.
Kaepernick has been protesting against police brutality and unjust treatment of the black community since preseason games this August, and said in a press conference, “When there’s significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it’s supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it’s supposed to, I’ll stand.”
In a counterargument, Obama reminded everyone that expression within the law is an American right and called those who disagree with Kaepernick’s actions to “think about the pain he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.”
The president stated, “The test of our fidelity to our Constitution, to freedom of speech, to our Bill of Rights, is not when it’s easy, but when it’s hard.”