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The National Black Police Association wrote a must-read letter to Nike about racism and police violence.

Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated.

The National Black Police Association just put the Colin Kaepernick debate to rest.

Kaepernick’s protest is all about calling attention to police violence and racism. His critics say kneeling during the national anthem is both disrespectful to the American flag and to our nation’s police officers.

The National Association of Police Officers seemed to agree with those critics, calling for a boycott of Nike products. In a letter, they wrote:

“In featuring Mr. Kaepernick in the ‘Just Do It’ campaign, Nike grossly insults the men and women who really do make sacrifices for the sake of our nation.”

Seemingly powerful stuff until you weigh it against this absolute must read from The National Black Police Association.

But for black people who are also police officers the response to Kaepernick is more complicated. In a letter to Nike CEO Mark Parker, NBPA National Chairperson Sonia Y.W. Pruitt writes:

“NAPO believes that Mr. Kaepernick’s choice to openly protest issues surging police brutality, racism and social injustices in this country makes him anti-police.”

“On the contrary, the NBPA believes that Mr. Kaepernick’s stance is in direct alignment with what law enforcement stands for—the protection of a people, their human rights, their dignity, their safety, and their rights as American citizens.”

“We will likely be buying and wearing lots of Nike products in the near future.”

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

They are protecting the very rights Kaepernick and others make use of in their protests.

The irony of the Nike backlash is that honorable police officers around the country protect the right of people to express their opinions, even unpopular ones, as part of their larger duty to serve and protect.

If police only protected those who agreed with them and served their interests, they wouldn’t be heroes or even public servants. They’d just be an armed militia.

As Pruitt writes:

“If they had asked the NBPA, we would have told them that they were out of line, and that the NBPA supports any person or group who exercises their right to peacefully protest against any form of social injustice, including police brutality and racism.”

You can read the full letter here, which was first obtained by The Intercept.

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