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Barack Obama says Colin Kaepernick is exercising his “constitutional right” by protesting the national anthem during NFL games.

At a news conference on Monday, the president was asked where he stood on the NFL quarterback’s now infamous protest against police brutality.

Obama said he has not paid much attention to the matter, but noted that Kaepernick joins a long line of athletes who have used their platforms to protest.

The president said:

“My understanding at least is that he’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement. I think there’s a long history of sports figures doing so. I think there are a lot of ways you can do it. As a general matter, when it comes to the flag and the national anthem and the meaning that that holds for our men and women in uniform and those who have fought for us, that is a tough thing for them to get past to then hear what his deeper concerns are. But I don’t doubt his sincerity, based on what I’ve heard. I think he cares about real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about.”

Last month, Kaepernick, 28, said he could not “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” and refused to stand during the anthem. Kaepernick said the protest was “bigger than football,” adding that he felt it would be selfish for him to look the other way.

His actions were criticized, and he’s been called everything from spoiled to unpatriotic, and his Blackness even came into question, but he has stood firm in his assessment that he is both a patriot and a Black man who cares about what happens to people of color across the country. And while he’s been dragged by conservatives, he’s also earned significant support from scores of people, including countless veterans.

Out of respect to servicemen and women, he has since changed his protest from sitting to taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem.

Both the NFL and the San Francisco 49ers have supported Kaepernick’s right to not stand during the anthem.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter

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