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Protesters at M&T Bank Stadium urge Ravens to sign Colin Kaepernick

About 15 protesters knelt between the Johnny Unitas and Ray Lewis statues in front of M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday morning to encourage the Ravens to sign free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The demonstration, which was planned on social media, lasted about an hour as the Ravens were participating in an open practice inside the stadium. Protesters carried signs that read, “Ravens fans for Kaepernick,” and “Blacklist: What is it good for?”

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, became one of the most polarizing athletes in the country last year when he began declining to stand for the pregame national anthem. The Ravens explored signing him when they learned that starting quarterback Joe Flacco would be sidelined with a back injury. Ryan Mallett is currently the Ravens’ top healthy quarterback.

As the team weighed the decision, it heard from fans both for and against signing Kaepernick.

Meredith Tyler held a sign Saturday that read: “Say No to NFL Racism. Sign Colin Kaepernick.”

“I don’t think the whole Colin Kaepernick issue is a football decision,” the Federal Hill woman said. “I think it’s probably a money decision and the Ravens organization is too frightened that they are going to lose fans, lose supporters, lose ticket holders that they don’t want to take that chance nor do other teams in the league.

“It is something that I support. If the Ravens took a strong stance against Kaepernick, I would consider not attending games.”

Tyler, who is a Ravens season-ticket holder, acknowledged the team is in a tough spot.

“I own PSLs and I put my name on the wait list as well and I moved 300 places on the wait list just this last season,” Tyler said. “I think their ticket sales are in a little bit of trouble.”

Jeff Brauer, wearing a Kaepernick 49ers’ T-shirt, said he attended the protest because he wanted to take a stance against racial and social injustice.

“It’s a huge problem affecting our country and it’s being manifest by the NFL,” the Baltimore man said. “They continue to employ people who have assaulted their partners, who have tested positive for drugs. They continue to sign them, but Colin Kaepernick does a nonviolent protest against a major problem in our country and he’s been blacklisted.”

Brauer said that he was upset that what he perceived as an anti-Kaepernick mentality among fans was contributing to the Ravens’ decision.

A man who identified himself as DevRock Murray said that he was the primary organizer of the demonstration. He said there would be more demonstrators at future Ravens home games if the organization didn’t listen to their arguments.

“You would rather not deal with a black man in America talking about issues than having Ryan Mallett be the possibility of being your starting quarterback,” DevRock said. “If this is about money, it doesn’t make sense. We’ve got spending dollars. People want to see Kapenerick. We’re going to buy jerseys. We’re going to fill up the stands. But if you don’t bring him, we’re going to be out here and be on your nerves, like this.”

There was very little interaction between fans entering the stadium and the protesters, who mostly stood off to the side. However, one fan taunted the protesters and said, “Kaepnerick [stinks].” In response, a protester said, “He’s better than Mallett.”

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jeffzrebiecsun

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