Colin Kaepernick’s Protest Immortalized As Street Art
"I sit with Kaepernick" posters pop up in Brooklyn
Photos: Jeff Rothberg
The protest started by football player Colin Kaepernick’s back in August has officially hit the streets of New York City, as art. Posters depicting the San Francisco 49ers quarterback in his signature protest pose with the words “I sit with Kaepernick,” have been pasted up in several areas around Brooklyn. The art is the work of 33-year-old graphic designer Jeff Rothberg.
The lifelong New Yorker tells Mass Appeal he was compelled to put up the posters. “I felt real connected to what he’s doing and his movement,” says Rothberg over the phone. “I’m a proud American. I love my country, but I see it for a lot of the faults that exist.”
Rothberg produced dozens of the posters, and scattered them throughout Prospect Heights, Flatbush, Crown Heights and Williamsburg because of the “diversity, history and culture” of those neighborhoods, adding that “a lot of influential people live in Brooklyn now.”
The artist says it’s important for the dialogue that Kaepernick kicked off to continue and he hopes the posters will do that, whether the people looking at them like it or not.
“I don’t mind if I get negative reactions to my piece,” says Rothberg. “I want positive, I want negative, I want all types of reactions, because that’s what I’m doing it for. I’m doing it for a reaction. And I’m doing it to get the conversation going. That’s how change happens. We gotta talk. We can’t just shove it to the side and ignore [it] like has been done for too long.”
According to Rothberg the inspiration for the look of the poster came from 1963 football cards, explaining how that’s the year Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.
The Kaepernick posters aren’t the only campaign he’s responsible for. Rothberg caught the attention of quite a few Brooklynites, including Spike Lee, when he created art featuring Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ahead of the debate they had months ago. Lee apparently appreciated the “Battle for Brooklyn” so much, he contacted Rothberg for one, invited him to meet and they spoke for over 30 minutes. The renowned director also got the poster signed by both candidates.
Although Rothberg realizes that his actions could attract the attention of the NYPD, he’s willing to take that risk to get the word out and keep the discourse going. “It’s important to talk about these topics and fight for injustice for those have been getting the wrong end of the stick,” he says.