San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler said Friday he will remain in the clubhouse during the national anthem at ballgames, a protest against the nation’s lack of action following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
“I don’t plan on coming out for the anthem going forward until I feel better about the direction of our country,” Kapler said in the Giants’ dugout at Great American Ball Park before their series opener.
“That’ll be the step. I don’t expect it to move the needle necessarily. It’s just something I feel strongly enough about to take that step.”
Earlier Friday, Kapler published a link to his blog post about his reaction on Twitter, stating he regretted not making a form of protest — including taking a knee — on the night of the shootings. Kapler’s accompanying tweet: “We’re not the land of the free nor the home of the brave right now.”
Tuesday, an 18-year-old killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School using an AR-15-style rifle, a similar weapon to the one used in the Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket shooting in which 10 people were fatally shot.
“My brain said drop to a knee; my body didn’t listen. I wanted to walk back inside; instead I froze. I felt like a coward,” Kapler wrote. “I didn’t want to call attention to myself. I didn’t want to take away from the victims or their families. There was a baseball game, a rock band, the lights, the pageantry. I knew that thousands of people were using this game to escape the horrors of the world for just a little bit. I knew that thousands more wouldn’t understand the gesture and would take it as an offense to the military, to veterans, to themselves.
“But I am not okay with the state of this country. I wish I hadn’t let my discomfort compromise my integrity. I wish that I could have demonstrated what I learned from my dad, that when you’re dissatisfied with your country, you let it be known through protest. The home of the brave should encourage this.”
Kapler wrote that when he was as young as the kids killed in Uvalde, his father taught him to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance when the country represented people well and to protest “and stay seated” when it’s not.
“I don’t believe it is representing us well right now,” Kapler wrote.
In his blog entry, Kapler criticized those who failed to take action during the shooting and politicians who campaign for “locked doors and armed teachers.” Kapler pointed out the killer walked into the school and “was able to murder children for nearly an hour” despite an armed resource officer present and “police officers who had weapons and who receive nearly 40% of the city’s funding.”
In 2020, his first season with the Giants, Kapler was the first big-league manager to take a knee during the national anthem to protect racial inequality and police brutality, and some players — including Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater and Pablo Sandoval — and coaches did the same.
Asked where he’ll be during the playing of the anthem, Kapler said, “Wherever my job takes me, just not on the field. Office, cage. It’s not unusual that we’re just having conversations around that time, especially for managers. It’s not the easiest thing to do to get out on a daily basis, but for me this is not about being busy and not being able to get out for the anthem. I am specifically not going to come for the anthem going forward.”
While Kapler will receive praise for his protest, he will also be criticized, which goes with the territory.
“I make allowances for any views, and keeping my side of the street clean is really about expressing myself,” Kapler said. “What happens from there, I really don’t have much control over.”
Of course, Kapler isn’t the first Bay Area leader of a professional sports team to speak out against gun violence. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr made an emotional and powerful statement the night of the Uvalde massacre and pleaded for Republican senators to pass gun laws that could help avoid these shootings.
“I thought he was especially powerful in that video,” Kapler said, “and it certainly inspired me to some degree.”
Kapler said he posted his words Friday because he needed a few days to process his thoughts. When the national anthem was played before the game, Kapler was not on the field.
“I knew that I was not in my best space mentally,” Kapler said, “and I knew that it was in connection with some of the hypocrisy of standing for the national anthem and how it coincided with a moment of silence and how those things didn’t sync up well for me, but I couldn’t make sense of it in real time, and it took me a couple of days to pull all my thoughts together and to be able to articulate them clearly.”
This week, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays used their social media platforms to spread awareness about gun violence. So far, the Giants’ Twitter account has made no such mention.
(c)2022 the San Francisco Chronicle
Visit the San Francisco Chronicle at www.sfchronicle.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.