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Kaepernick’s frat and players protest on 1st NFL Sunday

Protesters rally for former quarterback Colin Kaepernick outside Ford Field and an NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the Arizona Cardinals in Detroit, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

DETROIT (AP) — Colin Kaepernick’s protest movement rolled on without him Sunday, as his fraternity marched in Detroit and players around the NFL sat or knelt during the national anthem.

Kaepernick remains unsigned after opting out of his contract with the 49ers. His supporters believe he’s being punished for protesting police brutality by refusing to stand during the national anthem last season.

About 50 members of the Kappa Alpha Psi alumni chapter in Detroit marched about a mile Sunday in a peaceful protest that ended just outside Ford Field, where the Lions hosted the Arizona Cardinals.

“When you look at some of the recent incidents like what happened to Michael Bennett in Las Vegas , it validates the stance that Colin Kaepernick has taken,” said Eric Brown, a former president of the fraternity’s alumni chapter in Detroit.

Brown said Kappa Alpha Psi planned to have similar gatherings in Dallas and Atlanta before future NFL games.

San Francisco safety Eric Reid kneeled for the anthem with several teammates standing around him. Reid joined Kaepernick in the anthem protest last season. He did not kneel at the start of the preseason but resumed his protest following the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month that involved a loosely connected mix of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists.

Bennett recently released a statement alleging racially motivated excessive force against him by Las Vegas police. The Seattle defensive end sat on the bench during the national anthem before Sunday’s game at Green Bay.

Bennett sat for the national anthem during the preseason as well, with teammate Justin Britt standing next to him with his hand on his shoulder. Britt again stood next to Bennett during his anthem protest Sunday. Defensive linemen Frank Clark and Cliff Avril each went back during the anthem to shake hands with Bennett.

On the other sideline at about the 30 yard-line, Bennett’s younger brother Martellus, a tight end for the Packers, stood at the end of the line next to his teammates, but raised his right fist in the air during the anthem.

Green Bay safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix helped hold a giant American flag on the field as the anthem was played.

In Cleveland, the Browns ran onto the field for their opener against Pittsburgh accompanied by police, firefighters, emergency workers and military personnel .

After being criticized for kneeling during the national anthem before a recent exhibition, several Browns players met with owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam about how to connect better with the community. They later met with Cleveland’s police chief and one of the ideas hatched was the pregame introduction. The public servants stood alongside the players for the anthem.

“I thought it was pretty cool,” said 10-time Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas. “I think doing that shows the unity that this team is trying to promote between our football team and first responders, military, police, and hopefully show a positive effort to move forward and to try to make America a better place for everybody.”

Before the anthem, a video featuring several Browns players, including Thomas and rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, was shown on the scoreboard. During the video, players asked for unity, equality and cooperation during a time of division in the country.

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch also sat during the national anthem in Tennessee.

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AP sports writers Larry Lage in Detroit, Tom Withers in Cleveland, Josh Dubow in Santa Clara, California, and Genaro Armas in Green Bay, Wisconsin, contributed to this story.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL .

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