Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was allowed to surprise Rikers Island inmates with a visit on Tuesday, to the dismay of corrections officers who felt his visit will endanger them.
Rikers is New York City’s main jail complex. The 413-acre island hosts ten of the New York City Department of Correction’s fifteen facilities. Several instances of violence against guards, at the hands of inmates, have occurred on Rikers Island in recent years.
Kaepernick spoke to groups of inmates at the jail’s George Motchan Detention Center, splitting his time between two, morning sessions. According to the New York Post, Kaepernick “pontificated on social justice issues and talked about his decision to kneel during the national anthem, which sparked nationwide outrage.”
Kaepernick has been vocal about his disdain for the justice and legal system of the United States, stating that it harbors racism, leading to “systemic oppression against people of color [and] police brutality.” Some of Kaepernick’s other shenanigans over the past two years included wearing insulting pig socks – which featured pigs wearing police hats – and comparing the police to the runaway slave patrol.
“That’s crazy to me to have a person like Colin Kaepernick in prison talking about police brutality,” an officer who attended the event told the Post. “It was insulting for me to be there. In the inmates’ eyes, we are the police when they’re locked up.”
The Post reports:
The morning started off with Kaepernick attending breakfast in the warden’s office before heading over to the “Peace Center,” where he conducted two 45-minute sessions with prisoners clad in gray jumpsuits.
The first group was 14 inmates — six adults and eight adolescents.
A volunteer at the jail introduced Kaepernick, who gave a 10-minute talk before fielding questions and signing autographs.
“…they asked him about taking a knee, why was he doing it,” the source reports. “He said he was doing it to call attention to police brutality. He said he felt that … being a man of means, he felt obligated to take a stance on what he believes in.”
In the second session, which consisted of four adults and 10 adolescents, Kaepernick was more direct on his feelings about police brutality, the source said.
“He came out of the gate with the police brutality … and he said the NFL was keeping him out of the game for speaking out.”
According to the source, the atmosphere in the room was calm, and Kaepernick told them that despite mistakes they may have made, “this wasn’t the end for them,” and “they could go on to do good things.” Kaepernick reportedly did not say anything derogatory about police or corrections officers.
But corrections union officials said Kaepernick’s visit may endanger their members by emboldening some criminals who believe they are victims of a “corrupt criminal justice system,” the Post reported.
“The inmates see a guy like this coming in, it’s almost like the administration is condoning being anti-law enforcement,” said Patrick Ferraiuolo, president of the Correction Captains’ Association, who added that Kaepernick’s visit might incite prisoners to violence.
“We’ve got enough issues in the facility with inmates assaulting staff,” Ferraiuolo said. “His presence, what he stands for, certainly doesn’t help.”
Colin Kaepernick spoke to Rikers Island inmates, and corrections officers are not happyhttps://t.co/dq9tiXaNUv
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) December 13, 2017
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) December 13, 2017
— Blue Lives Matter (@bluelivesmtr) December 13, 2017
Kaepernick visits Rikers Island to give “inspiring” speech to inmates, sparks feud with the correction officer unions https://t.co/XzvXHciFZs @ProFootballTalk @MikeFlorioPFT @ShaunKing @NYDailyNews pic.twitter.com/fuvUoPdSuT
— Reuven Blau (@ReuvenBlau) December 12, 2017