A campus police officer at the University of Nevada, Reno is under fire after he wore a costume to a Halloween party mocking former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Officer Antonio Gutierrez donned a costume that included a wig, a painted-on beard, an exaggerated prosthetic nose, a jersey similar to Kaepernick's and a cardboard sign hanging from his neck that read, “Will stand for food.”
The police officer happens to be from Kaepernick’s alma mater. Kaepernick played football at UNR and is a notable graduate of the university.
After the photos of Gutierrez went viral on social media, people criticized him for his insensitive costume. The police department also issued an apology.
“For those who have seen the Halloween costume of one of our officers apparently mocking a citizen who has chosen to take advantage of his constitutional right to protest, I offer my sincere apologies. Members of our profession are held to a higher standard and denigrating another — on or off duty — is insensitive for its lack of respect and lack understanding on how others may negatively view their actions and may be impacted,” said UNR Police Chief Adam Garcia.
He further said, “Behavior such as this magnifies unsafe feelings and lack of trust in police, especially when that individual is responsible for the safety of all members of the university, regardless of color, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion. At a time when officers should be heightened in their attentiveness to the perception by our community, this act seems extremely out of touch with those sentiments and reflects poorly on all of us.”
However, Kerri Garcia, a spokeswoman for UNR, said Gutierrez would not be facing a disciplinary action as the university has “no policy that would dictate any disciplinary action.”
“As insensitive and inappropriate as this is, we have no policy that would dictate any disciplinary action,” she said.
Kaepernick initiated the silent protest of kneeling down during the national anthem before games to protest the brutality and violence black people face at the hands of the police. The move was the beginning of what turned into league-wide protests earlier this season after President Donald Trump made critical comments of players who don’t stand for the national anthem.
The fact that an officer is poking fun at a person who chose to protest racism and police brutality is ironic and condemnable, to say the least.
People on Twitter criticized Gutierrez for his actions.
The actions of officer Antonio Gutierrez of the @unevadareno are deeply disturbing and something Reno should not stand for. Fire him!— LexiLu (@MolinariAlexi) October 31, 2017
Wrong. It's racist. You're blind if you can't see it.— tree (@treekisser) October 31, 2017
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Jake Roth