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Colin Kaepernick Opens Up About the Incident That Sparked His Activism, Youth Camp

In a recent Instagram message, Colin Kaepernick marked the three-year anniversary of the first time he “protested systemic oppression” by kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games.

Now in a new interview with Paper, the former NFL quarterback revealed the very incident that made him an activist, and it was the 2015 killing of 26-year-old Mario Woods, who was shot by five San Francisco police officers a total of 20 times. 

Woods was a suspect in a stabbing at the time, and police later found him holding a knife they said he refused to put down. Woods’ family eventually settled a lawsuit with the city for $400,000 after his mother, Gwendolyn Woods, denied that her son made threats or raised the knife.

Not only did the shooting turn Kaepernick toward activism, it sparked the idea of creating a Know Your Rights Camp for kids with his girlfriend Nessa Diab. The rolling camp has already gotten underway in places like Miami, Baltimore and New Orleans.

“The discussion happened shortly after the execution of Mario Woods,” Kap explained.

The Know Your Rights Camp is set up for youth, Black and Brown in particular, ages 12-18, who will be taught how to handle police run-ins. The camp also focuses on things like education, health, finance and self-empowerment.

Besides going through physical training to stay in football shape, Kaepernick has been spending a lot time reading books like Angela Davis‘ “Women, Race & Class,” The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and Huey P. Newton‘s autobiography “Revolutionary Suicide.” And Kap says not much has improved for black folks since the Black Panthers leader was alive.

“That was over 50 years ago and what has changed?” asked Kaepernick, referring to the Black Panther’s famous Ten-Point Program. “Oscar Grant, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice. What has changed? Laquan McDonald, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray. The Panthers’ demands are still alive today because the police are still killing us today.”

Kaepernick’s last official NFL game was in 2017, and he hasn’t been picked up by another team since then. Kap, along with Eric Reid, a former teammate who also kneeled during the national anthem, filed a collusion suit against the NFL that was settled earlier this year.

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