Members of the New York Police Department rallied in support of Colin Kaepernick on Saturday as the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, who ignited controversy last season for sitting out the national anthem during games, remains unsigned heading into the NFL season.
The gathering, at Brooklyn Bridge Park, featured roughly 80 officers, according to the New York Times. Kaepernick has not been signed by an NFL team this season, despite the belief of many football analysts that his talents would prove useful to teams who lack depth at the quarterback position.
The unusual show of support from police comes as a second wave of protests, modeled after what Kaepernick did last season in the name of "black people and people of color," is building in the NFL.
Marshawn Lynch, a running back for the Oakland Raiders, and arguably the most high profile star to join the national anthem protests since Kaepernick participated last season, sidestepped questions about his participation in them during a press conference last week.
"I think that elephant just left the room, because a little mouse ran in here," Lynch said facetiously, responding to a question from a reporter who referred to the protests as "the elephant in the room."
The show of support for Kaepernick by some NYPD officers featured at least one high profile guest in Frank Serpico, who arrived at the gathering. The former officer is celebrated for his whistleblowing and anti-corruption efforts, which were the subject of a 1973 film starring Al Pacino.
Kaepernick was critical of the police last season after a series of highly publicized incidents in which black men were shot and killed by officers across the U.S.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said in 2016 during the preseason after his protests first drew the attention of the media. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
The quarterback also drew intense criticism from officers after photos emerged of him wearing black athletic socks covered in illustrated pigs wearing police hats during a practice on August 10, 2016.
Kaepernick wrote in response to the controversy that he has family members who were police officers, and that he wore the controversial socks prior to taking a "public stance."
In addition to Saturday’s gathering of New York police, the NAACP of Atlanta has called for a boycott of the NFL if Kaepernick does not find a team to play for this season.