49ers' CEO Jed York (L) and San Jose POA president Paul Kelly were amongst those who discussed gun violence and a 49ers-police union effort to end it Thursday. President of San Jose Police Officers’ Association Sgt. Paul Kelly, right, and San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York, left, speak at a press conference to “Pledge for a More Understanding and Safer America” at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Thursday, October 26, 2017. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)

Much of the conversation around NFL protests started with the San Francisco 49ers, and with the protests from Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid. Since then, the 49ers’ organization has been pushing to try and address some of the issues between police and communities worried about police violence, sponsoring a community forum on the topic in San Jose and donating $1 million to “the cause of improving racial and economic inequality and fostering communication and collaboration between law enforcement and the communities they serve here in the Bay Area.” They’ve now taken some interesting new steps, signing a pledge Wednesday with representatives of police unions from San Jose, Oakland, Santa Clara, New York, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Long Beach and Portland to “ease police-community acrimony,” pledging another $500,000 for an outreach campaign that includes public-service announcements toward that goal, and joining with the unions to call for gun control restrictions in the wake of the Las Vegas shootings.

49ers CEO Jed York (left above) and Sgt. Paul Kelly (right above), president of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, were two of the speakers Thursday. York in particular had a lot to say about the issues of gun control. Here’s more on that part from Robert Salonga of the San Jose Mercury News:

Now they’re trying to set the league’s moral compass once again, this time partnering with big-city police unions to back rising gun-control measures, particularly with the “bump stocks” that significantly boosted the killing power of the shooter in the Las Vegas massacre earlier this month.

“It seems insane to me that a citizen can buy something like that,” CEO Jed York said at a news conference Thursday. “I’m not anti-Second Amendment, this is something that is common sense.”

…Much of the news conference at Levi’s Stadium on Thursday rallied behind proposed federal legislation to ban the bump stocks as well as advocating the outlawing of armor-piercing bullets and gun silencers that the unions contend are a significant threat to law enforcement.

Robert Harris, secretary of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, stressed that his colleagues were not trying to obstruct gun rights.

“We are unwavering in our support of the Second Amendment. We also believe that common sense laws should be put into place to protect law-enforcement officers and the citizens they serve,” Harris said. “If as a country we hope to make any progress, it will take all of us to leave our comfort zones.”

That seems like somewhat of a shift, and a long way from the initial protests questioning violence by police officers against civilians. And teaming up with police unions and talking about gun control being necessary to protect police officers isn’t necessarily going to win the 49ers fans from those who supported these protests. But that’s not the entirety of this agreement; the elements focused on easing police-community acrimony may be even more notable, and the pledge of money for ads on that front could be pretty significant. (Perhaps even some that air on NFL games.) And Reid had some positive comments about this partnership overall:

“I wouldn’t say that our protest led to this. But it is encouraging that the NFL, and in particular our team, stepped up to the plate,” Reid said. “These are serious issues, people losing their lives. If we have a way to eliminate that and stop that loss of life, we need to do it.”

Still, he said, the anthem protests will continue.

“Until we get something written in stone or the NFL makes us feel they’re going to take over our platform for raising awareness around systemic oppression, then we’re going to continue to kneel. But I think we’re on the right track,” Reid said.

We’ll see what this actually leads to and how it goes over, but it’s possible we could see 49ers-funded ads focused on improving those police-community relationships in the near future. And as Reid noted, it is refreshing to see a team working to address some of the concerns its players have mentioned. We’ll see what this pledge and partnership winds up doing.

[San Jose Mercury News]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.

3 thoughts on “The 49ers are partnering with police unions for PSAs, community-building, and gun control efforts

  1. Funny that they’ll finally side with police when it comes to limiting people’s rights. Go east of the Cascades and no police union supports any of this nonsense, even though bump stocks are kind of a 50/50 proposition depending on who you ask. Armor piercing ammo and silencers are more or less banned everywhere anyways, which shows that the 49ers know as much about gun laws as they do winning football games.

  2. They still don’t get it. They are missing a great opportunity to turn the conversation, as well as potentially foster some good for both police-community relations and the NFL image as a whole. Wether you fall all the way to the right or left or somewhere in between on gun rights/gun control, making this issue the main focus of the proposal will only serve to further drive a wedge between the two sides. Politics has played an unequivocal role in the NFL’s decline already, why on earth you would further delve into divisive politics is beyond moronic. Gun control had nothing to do with the supposed premise of the protests in the first place, and it still has no relevance to what the protests have become (a statement on the Anthem/America/etc.). The message of police-community relations will again be lost because of this unbelievably idiotic decision to include gun control as a major part of this platform.

  3. The new current “Spin” on the Anthem protests has now taken a turn of “We support the Police but want Gun Control”.
    Totally ludicrous, laughable & moronic.
    Millions have turned off the TV set, obvious empty seats in the stands equals Fans contempt for the politicalization of Pro Football.
    Now the new Spin is on gun control ?
    This is the real headline news – the average NFL fan, the viewers, the guys buying tickets are in the majority blue collar or masculine types. Hunting, fishing & outdoor activities are or were prominently featured in their past. Most own guns & are supporters of the 2nd Amendment.
    Excellent move by the 49ers who appear determined to play games in front of High School size crowds.

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