LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - Lawton residents are speaking out against an NFL quarterback they believe is disrespecting the United States.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand up while the national anthem was being played before the start of a preseason game last Friday night. When questioned, he said he simply could not support the flag of a country that oppresses African-Americans.
His stance has left people all over the country debating his actions.
"As long as he lives here, he really should respect America," Lawton resident Vicki Swann said.
That seems to be the most common opinion of Lawton residents, including Domonique Jefferson who believes it is extremely disrespectful for Kaepernick to remain seated during the National Anthem.
"Simply because there are Americans of all nationalities and all races who have died for those freedoms we have in America," Jefferson said.
Angelika Brittingham grew up in Germany but became an American citizen in 2004. She comes from a different upbringing than most in Lawton and said she is firmly against the way Kaepernick chose to protest.
"I do it because to me, it means there are a lot of soldiers who have died and given their life for everyone to speak," Brittingham said. "When that moment comes I think we should all stand and respect that."
Kaepernick said his protest was not aimed at the soldiers and he has great respect for the men and women who have fought for this country. He said despite public outcry he has no intention of backing down.
"When there is a significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it is supposed to represent, I'll stand," Kaepernick said.
Several Lawton residents agreed that there are significant problems in the country that need addressing, but said Kaepernick's stance did little if anything to improve those concerns.
"I know we're having troubles but this is his home, just like it's our home, and you shouldn't disrespect the national anthem, if he ever went back and realized how that was written, he would think twice of why he's not standing up. He should be standing up," Swann said.
Brittingham says while she agrees with Kaepernick to some degree, she does not support the implementation of his protest.
"I would stand and I would have my hand over my heart because I love my country," Brittingham said. "It doesn't mean that I don't see that we have issues that need to be resolved, but that's not the time."
The 49ers issued a statement about Kaepernick's decision, saying "The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem."
The N-F-L also released a written statement saying "Players are encouraged, but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem."