Colin Kaepernick can’t seem to do anything without making someone upset — even if it’s something selfless.
On Tuesday, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback went to the infamous Rikers Island prison in New York to pay a surprise visit to inmates. A Department of Corrections spokesman said that Kaepernick was there “to share a message of hope and inspiration.” But according to the New York Daily News, Kaepernick’s very presence at the prison angered Elias Husamudeen, president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association. Here’s what Husamudeen told the Daily News:
“This will only encourage inmates to continue to attack Correction Officers at a time when we need more protection.”
It’s not clear how Husamudeen decided that Kaepernick sharing an inspirational message with inmates meant that he was telling them to attack correction officers, but here we are. Kaepernick is an advocate for criminal justice reform, which in no way means he was calling for inmates to attack prison officers.
That wasn’t all Husamudeen was offended by. New York’s PIX 11 had more about Kaepernick’s visit, and more about what Husamudeen was angry about:
Husamudeen was also upset inmates were provided with suits to wear for the meeting. Kaepernick’s meeting was in conjunction with the organization “100 Suits for 100 men,” a program for young adult inmates who are mentored in financial literacy, become members of a book club and listen to guest speakers.
“We’re living in a world of make believe,” Husamudeen said. “Inmates don’t wear suits in jail. Give suits to the men in the streets looking for work. Help them before they come to jail.”
Rikers Island is one of the most brutal prisons in the country. Giving the inmates suits to wear while while they hear Colin Kaepernick speak is a chance for them to feel human. Denying inmates their humanity is how prisons break people down, and Kaepernick was trying to give that humanity back to the inmates for just a few hours. Nothing about that is “make believe.”
In the end, it doesn’t necessarily matter what the president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association says about Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick did something positive for several Rikers Island inmates on Tuesday, and that’s what matters.
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