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President Obama Defends Colin Kaepernick: 'He Was Exercising His Constitutional Right'


President Obama Defends Colin Kaepernick: 'He Was Exercising His Constitutional Right' (Getty)

Nearly everyone seems to have an opinion about Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand during a pre-game national anthem--even President Obama.

Asked during a press conference in China about the San Francisco quarterback's headline-generating silent protest, the president said Kaepernick was within his rights as an American.

He is "exercising his constitutional right" by choosing not to stand for the anthem, Obama told reporters at the Hangzhou press event.

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While the president admitted he hasn't followed the controversy closely, he said Kaepernick has helped generate a national conversation about "issues that need to be talked about."

"I don't doubt his sincerity," Obama said.

Sincere or no, however, the union representing the Santa Clara police has threatened to boycott policing the stadium where the 49ers play in the Bay Area city if the quarterback isn't disciplined for criticizing police and refusing to stand during the national anthem.

In a letter, the union wrote that Kaepernick's "inappropriate behavior" has "threatened our harmonious working relationship."

"The board of directors of the Santa Clara Police Officer's Association has a duty to protect its members and work to make all of their working environments free of harassing behavior," the Sept. 4 letter reads.

Read: As Kaepernick Takes a Knee, More Athletes Refuse to Stand During National Anthem

The Santa Clara Chief of Police Michael Sellers subsequently issued his own statement assuring 49ers fans they will be protected at home games at Levi's Stadium. 

Kaepernick's "blanket statements disparaging the law enforcement profession are hurtful and do not help bring the country together," Sellers said.

"As distasteful as his actions are, these actions are protected by the Constitution. Police officers are here to protect the rights of every person, even if we disagree with their position."

Watch: Kaepernick Jerseys Burned in Effigy After NFL Star Refuses to Stand for Anthem