A video from 2019 resurfaced on Sunday that showed a K9 handler at the Navy SEALs Museum wearing a Colin Kaepernick jersey as dogs attacked him. The footage referenced the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback kneeling during the national anthem and prompted a response from the retired Green Beret who initially told him to kneel.
"I thought it was a soft-target thing. It was pretty weak," Nate Boyer said to Business Insider. "They're trying to raise money for a charity event, and that's what they were using? I don't know; I think that it's a weak move." Boyer continued to explain that dressing the handler in the Kaepernick jersey was done with "very specific intention — as if he's the antithesis of the American flag, a symbol of freedom, or military stance. It's almost like he's an enemy of the United States."
Following the video going viral on Sunday, the Navy SEALs launched an investigation into the incident. The military unit has no control over the nonprofit museum, but it stopped showing support. The SEALs announced that it severed all ties.
"Each and every one of us serves to protect our fellow Americans — ALL Americans. Even the perception that our commitment to serving the men and women of this nation is applied unevenly is destructive," Rear Admiral Collin Green, head of the Naval Special Warfare Command, said in an email to his forces, per AP News. Green continued to explain that the Navy SEALs will revisit their relationship with the museum when he "is convinced" that they have made the necessary changes.
Boyer compared the demonstration and the use of the Kaepernick jersey to comedians that "consistently use a soft target like Donald Trump." He said that there are people that find it funny, but "it's an easy way out." Boyer said that he would like people to think a little harder and try to be more creative and uniting. He also asked them to imagine being Kaepernick in that situation.
Kaepernick is someone that has drawn criticism over the years due to first sitting and then later kneeling during the national anthem. He said that he did so in protest of police brutality, but his demonstrations created debates about whether or not this was disrespectful to the American flag, the country and the military members. Boyer had initially been among those expressing anger after he saw the QB sit, but he wrote an open letter to Kaepernick.0comments
"I'm not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It's your inalienable right," Boyer wrote in the letter. "What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I'd be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes. I've never had to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin, and for me to say I can relate to what you've gone through is as ignorant as someone who's never been in a combat zone telling me they understand what it's like to go to war."
The Green Beret and the NFL player later held a meeting and discussed potential options. Boyer advised that kneeling would be more respectful and that it would resonate with more observers. They then met face-to-face before an NFL game. Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem while Boyer stood by his side with his hand over his heart.