This is the third camp and is limited to black, brown, and economically oppressed youth who are invited through local community organizations. No sports fans, press, or random attendees are allowed. Kaepernick organizes, funds, and hosts the camps in which he speaks directly to the youth about history, nutrition, legal rights, and finances.
Roughly 50 multiracial Know Your Rights volunteers flew in to Chicago from all over the country to lend their services and help the event to flow smoothly. The event was held at DuSable Museum of African-American History in Hyde Park.
Attendees were served breakfast and lunch and given T-shirts with “Know Your Rights” emblazoned on the front and the following 10 points listed on the back.
1. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE FREE.
2. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE HEALTHY.
3. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE BRILLIANT.
4. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE SAFE.
5. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE LOVED.
6. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE COURAGEOUS.
7. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE ALIVE.
8. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE TRUSTED.
9. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE EDUCATED.
10. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.
The 10 points, as well as the distribution of free breakfasts, were derived from the Black Panther political legacy. Campers were given a seminar on history, segregation, and structural racism in Chicago by Cal-Berkeley PhD candidate Ameer Loggins.
Another guest was Chicago native, rapper Common who said that he now lists Kaepernick as one of his heroes for the courageous manner in which he has campaigned for social justice.
Guillermo Gutierrez and Charles Jones from First Defense Legal Aid were brought in next to speak with the young attendees about their legal rights and due process. The two referred to Chicago as the “false-confession capital of the world” and spoke of Jon Burge, the South Side police officer that tortured more than 200 people into giving false confessions over a span of nearly 30 years.
They said that the future of some people in the room could depend on knowing their rights when approached by law enforcement, and hammered home what to say if stopped by police. “First and foremost, you always have the right to ask, ‘Am I free to go?’ That is your constitutional right. If they say ‘no,’ you have the right to say, ‘I do not consent to be searched.’ If you don’t say those words, they can and will search you.”
Then they stressed, “Always remain silent. Call us. Have an attorney present. That is your right.”
Gutierrez and Jones made the students repeat their hotline number—1 (800) Law-Rep4—as well as promise to distribute cards with the number to family and friends.
Students asked about retaliation from police if they invoked these rights, concerned that they would be pegged as uncooperative. The First Defense Legal Aid performed skits to show not only how to resist any police coercion but also how to articulate their rights to minimize conflict.
Kaepernick came out and reinforced the point, saying, “So if an officer stops you, what do you say?” The students all said as one, “Am I free to go?’”
The campers then dispersed into breakout sessions where they learned about “holistic health” and “financial literacy”.
Kai closed out the 6-hour day by speaking of his own upbringing as an adopted child of color in a white family. He spoke of needing to trace his true roots and encouraged the campers to do the same, even providing DNA ancestry kits in the backpacks given to them at the camp.
“I thought I was from Milwaukee. I thought my ancestry started at slavery and I was taught in school that we were all supposed to be grateful just because we aren’t slaves. But what I was able to do was trace my ancestry and DNA lineage back to Ghana, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, and saw my existence was more than just being a slave. It was as an African man. We had our own civilizations, and I want you to know how high the ceiling is for our people. I want you to know that our existence now is not normal. It’s oppressive. For me, identifying with Africa gave me a higher sense of who I was, knowing that we have a proud history and are all in this together.”
Then he took a deep breath and said, “This was so important for me and I want to share it with you. So when you leave, you are all getting backpacks, and inside of them are Ancestry DNA kits so you can trace your ancestry and connect with your lost relatives who may have taken this test as well.”
Kap is still working out and is confident that he will land an NFL job soon; however he is focused on a more pressing issue: ending oppression in the black and minority communities. The Know Your Rights camp has made stops in Oakland and New York City with many more cities to come.
In addition to the wealth of knowledge, a few campers won headphones and tickets to Kehlani’s Chicago show. Flip the page to watch the lucky winners receive their prizes.