Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand was done as an act of protest against police violence and oppression against people of color in the United States, according to NFL Media.
While most of the officers at the rally were African-American or other minorities, one notable exception was 81-year-old former NYPD officer Frank Serpico, whose whistle-blowing efforts on corruption in the department inspired the 1973 Al Pacino movie "Serpico".
"He's trying to hold up this government up to our founding fathers", Serpico said of Kaepernick.
NYPD Sgt. Edwin Raymond, who helped organize the rally, said Kaepernick is being "railroaded".
"Until racism in America is no longer taboo, we own up to it, we admit it, we understand it and then we do what we have to do to solve it", he said.
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Seventeen-year-old Moussa Oukabir, initially reported to be the driver of the van, was among the five killed. Relatives started the fundraising effort to assist his family with living and educational expenses.
The participants raised their fists and took a knee together near the end of the rally in a symbolistic display of support for Kaepernick.
'We made a decision to gather here today because of the way he's being railroaded for speaking the truth, ' Raymond said during the event, according to the New York Daily News.
Support for Kaepernick seems to be coming to a crescendo just three weeks before the official start of the season, with the #BlackOutNFL movement and a planned protest in front of the National Football League headquarters in NY on August 23.
Contrary to what many believe, Kaepernick was not fired from his former team, which he led to the super bowl in 2013.
Goodell's comments came after several teams considered signing Kaepernick, but ultimately chose to go with someone else. Griggs said Kaepernick remained unsigned exclusively due to his silent boycott of the national anthem last season.
Riggs warned that if Kaepernick remains unsigned to a deal as of 5 p.m. September 17, "We are going to have the world's largest tailgate, and that tailgate will not go into Mercedes-Benz Stadium".
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