President Obama fielded several questions as part of his town hall meeting at the Fort Lee Army base in Virginia on Wednesday night.
One of them was about Colin Kaepernick and his NFL peers refusing to stand for the national anthem as a stance against racism and police brutality in America.
Having touched on the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback's silent protest earlier this month, the commander-in-chief delved deeper, offering his thoughts on Kaep exercising his constitutional right to take this stance.
“As I’ve said before, I believe that us honoring our flag and our anthem is part of what binds us together as a nation,” Obama responded when asked what he thought of the ongoing protest from Kaepernick and several other NFL players. “And I think that, for me, for my family, for those who work in the White House, we recognize what it means to us but also what it means to the men and women who are fighting on our behalf. But I also always try to remind folks that part of what makes this country special is that we respect people’s rights to have a different opinion.”
Above all, President Obama is OK with the national anthem stance as long as it continues the conversation about racial inequalities in the country marching forward.
“I want everybody to listen to each other. So, I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing," Obama said. "But I also want people to think about the pain that he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.”
Watch Obama deliver his full statement below.
Prior to last night, Obama first offered his thoughts on Kaepernick's stance during the G20 economic summit in China earlier this month.
At that time, Obama said he doesn't "doubt [Kaepernick's] sincerity" and that "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."
What do you think about President Obama's comments about Kaepernick's protest?
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(Photos from left: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, Grant Halverson/Getty Images)