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Santa Clara police union urges officers to work at 49ers game, despite 'concerns' over Kaepernick's comments

Santa Clara police union urges officers to work at 49ers game, despite 'concerns' over Kaepernick's comments
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneels during the national anthem before a preseason game in San Diego. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

The union representing rank-and-file members of the Santa Clara Police Department recommended Thursday that officers continue to voluntarily work at San Francisco 49ers home games.

In a letter addressed to Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor and released publicly, the union's board of directors said it would "encourage and support" officers to continue providing security at Levi's Stadium. The union also thanked the mayor for clarifying "a major misconception that we are required to work at 49ers games."

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The police union had threatened to boycott providing security at the stadium after Colin Kaepernick did not stand for the national anthem during the 49ers preseason games. The quarterback, joined later by teammate Eric Reid, said he was protesting racial inequality and brutality by police.

The police union complained in a letter to the team that Kaepernick's "inappropriate behavior" had "threatened our harmonious working relationship." On Thursday, the union faulted 49ers management for ignoring "concerns" over Kaepernick's conduct.

About 70 officers from the Santa Clara Police Department patrol Levi's Stadium when the 49ers play there; the officers are paid as stadium security. The team opens its season Monday against the Los Angeles Rams.

The city's mayor said in a letter issued Wednesday that Kaepernick's silent protest had been misinterpreted and that his post-game comments had demeaned "many good police officers." But she clarified that the police officers had the option to work at the game.

"Just as Mr. Kaepernick has the right to sit down for the national anthem, off-duty police officers have the right to sit out football games," Gillmor wrote. "However, I wish they would not, even though their participation is voluntary."

She added: "I believe this act would be misinterpreted by the public, as our excellent police officers would be viewed as taking sides in a debate that is more complex and important than a football game or what they may choose to do with their off-duty time."

Kapernick's protest has drawn impassioned responses. Supporters have sought his autograph and his No. 7 jersey has jumped in sales. Even President Obama weighed in, acknowledging that it could be difficult to see the athlete kneel instead of stand for the anthem but that he has a "constitutional right to make a statement."

The 49ers management has said the team stands behind Kaepernick.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Twitter: @MattHjourno.

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