Va. lieu­tenant gover­nor slams NFL treat­ment of Kaeper­nick

Speak­ing at VPA, Fair­fax faults way protests han­dled

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - NEWS - BY PA­TRICK WIL­SON pwil­[email protected]­dis­ (804) 649-6061 Twit­ter: @patrickmwil­son

Lt. Gov. Justin Fair­fax on Thurs­day said he has “grave con­cerns” about the way the NFL has re­sponded to player protests of po­lice bru­tal­ity, and said for­mer San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick was un­fairly pun­ished for ex­press­ing a First Amend­ment right to protest.

Fair­fax dis­cussed Kaeper­nick and other is­sues dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion to Vir­ginia re­porters at the Vir­ginia Press As­so­ci­a­tion Day in the Cap­i­tal, an an­nual event at VPA head­quar­ters in Hen­rico County that in­cludes a pre­view of the Gen­eral Assem­bly ses­sion.

“I have grave con­cerns about the way that he has been treated,” Fair­fax said of Kaeper­nick. “We talk about the First Amend­ment. We talk about the op­por­tu­nity to ex­press your­self . ... It’s hard to be­lieve that protest­ing po­lice bru­tal­ity and the shoot­ing and killing of un­armed peo­ple, pri­mar­ily un­armed African-Amer­i­cans, that that’s con­tro­ver­sial. I don’t think that’s some­thing that any of us wants to see.”

The Wash­ing­ton Red­skins, twice re­cently need­ing a new quar­ter­back, did not call on Kaeper­nick, who two years ago led other play­ers in re­fus­ing to stand for the na­tional an­them be­fore games. The lack of a call to Kaeper­nick prompted some crit­i­cism, in­clud­ing from Richard Sher­man, a cor­ner­back with the 49ers, Ya­hoo Sports re­ported Thurs­day.

Fair­fax said Kaeper­nick was be­ing pun­ished per­son­ally and eco­nom­i­cally for protest­ing in a way that has been done through Amer­i­can his­tory.

“It’s pretty clear that he’s not be­ing given an op­por­tu­nity to play in the NFL. So I don’t be­lieve that that’s right.”

Red­skins coach Jay Gru­den said Tues­day that the team talked about bring­ing in the for­mer 49ers starter, who has al­leged that he is be­ing shut out of the NFL be­cause of his stances on po­lice bru­tal­ity, but con­cluded that it was too late in the sea­son.

“Had this been Week 1, maybe he would prob­a­bly be a greater pos­si­bil­ity, but since it’s Week 13 with four games to go, in or­der to re­ally uti­lize some­body like Colin Kaeper­nick’s skill set, you’re talk­ing about a whole new group of for­ma­tions and run con­cepts and all that good stuff,” Gru­den said.

Fair­fax, a Demo­crat, was elected in 2017 to the part-time of­fice, which is con­sid­ered a step­ping­stone to a run for gover­nor. He is chair of the Demo­cratic Lieu­tenant Gover­nors As­so­ci­a­tion, and dis­cussed the Novem­ber cam­paign in which Democrats in­creased their num­ber of the na­tion’s lieu­tenant gover­nors from 14 to 23.

Fair­fax de­clined to say whether he sup­ported Gov. Ralph Northam’s con­tro­ver­sial re­cent de­ci­sion to re­move two mem­bers from the state air pol­lu­tion board less than a week af­ter they ex­pressed con­cerns about a plan for a nat­u­ral gas com­pres­sor sta­tion in Buck­ing­ham County. He said he had met with peo­ple from the area to hear their con­cerns and shared the con­cerns with the Northam ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“The gover­nor made his de­ci­sion,” Fair­fax said.

And he de­fended press free­dom and said he was up­set by the mur­der of Saudi Ara­bian jour­nal­ist and Wash­ing­ton Post columnist Ja­mal Khashoggi in Turkey.

“We have got to pro­tect our jour­nal­ists; we have got to pro­tect our First Amend­ment,” he said.

Re­fer­ring to a line re­peated by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Fair­fax told re­porters: “You are not the en­emy of the Amer­i­can peo­ple, and I want to be very clear about that. I think you’re ac­tu­ally es­sen­tial to who we are as Amer­i­cans.”


Lt. Gov. Justin Fair­fax speaks dur­ing VPA Day in the Cap­i­tal at the Vir­ginia Press As­so­ci­a­tion of­fices in Hen­rico County.

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