For over a year, anywhere Colin Kaepernick has set his foot (or knee) has been met with some sort of outrage. His recent visit to Rikers Island was no different.
On Tuesday (Dec. 5), the former-NFL quarterback turned political activist took it upon himself to make a surprise visit to the inmates of Rikers Island. And even though, according to a Department of Corrections spokesperson, Kaepernick was there to share a “message of hope and inspiration,” the Correction Officers Benevolent Association still found an issue with his appearance. In a statement to the New York Daily News, Elias Husamudeen, president of the organization, voiced his displeasure with Kaepernick’s visit, citing his presence as a potential catalyst for violence.
“This will only encourage prisoners to continue to attack correction officers at a time when we need protection the most,” Husamudeen told the Daily News before going on to imply that the appearance is a political decision by Mayor Bill de Blasio and not a genuine commitment to the correction officers.
And while it is not conclusive as to the actual reason why Husamudeen believes a talk about hope will result in violence, many of the leaders of this unionized organization pointed at a September 2016 picture of Kaepernick wearing socks featuring cops depicted as cartoon pigs as the source of their fearfulness.
Not everyone saw the visit as negative, though. Glenn Martin, the founder of JustLeadershipUSA, believes that Kaepernick’s appearance can shine a light on the conditions of the prison. “The world should see the hell that is Rikers Island,” Martin said. “Colin’s profile has helped shed light where it is needed. Colin understands that the systematic racism he is fighting is epitomized on Rikers.”
However, despite Martin’s approval, the Correction Officers Benevolent Association decided that Kaepernick’s appearance was enough for them to pull their sponsorship of the jail’s tree lighting celebration, making the festive event of Christmas on Rikers Island a little less jolly this year.