Obama: Kaepernick's protest 'a tough thing' for military community

President Obama said NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s controversial decision not to stand during the playing of the National Anthem to protest perceived racial issues was his “constitutional right,” though Obama allowed the demonstration could alienate some in the law enforcement and military communities.

Speaking at the G20 economic summit in China, Obama said Kaepernick’s social justice stance was the latest in “a long history of sports figures doing so,” and he believed the San Francisco 49ers player was “sincere.” However, Obama said condemnation of Kaepernick’s act threatened to drown out the quarterback’s effort to shine a light on issues affecting minorities.

“As a general matter, when it comes to the flag, and the National Anthem and the meaning that that holds for our men and women in uniform and those that fought for us – that is a tough thing for them to get past, to then hear what his deeper concerns are,” Obama said.

“But I don’t doubt his sincerity. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that need to be talked about and, if nothing else, what he’s done is generated more conversation about some topics that need to be talked about.”

Obama twice defined Kaepernick’s protest as “messy,” but said “that’s the way democracy works.”