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October 31, 2017

Pa. college: Costume of Kaepernick with blackface, gun to head is 'offensive,' but 'free expression'

A Pennsylvania college says it's investigating after a photo on social media showed a student in blackface dressed as former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and another student pointing a gun at his head.

Dickinson College, a private liberal arts college in Carlisle, said in a statement Sunday the costume and photo were "deeply offensive and reflected the exercise of very poor judgment."

Kaepernick started the wave of demonstrations across the NFL and other sports after kneeling during the playing of the national anthem last year, a move meant to protest social injustices, particularly against African-Americans. Many other professional athletes have followed suit.

In her statement about the costume and photo, Dickinson Vice President and Dean of Student Life Joyce Bylander said while the costume was "distasteful," it was a "form of free expression."

"However, their speech does not mean that we must sit idly by and accept their message," Bylander said.

Bylander noted that guns — toy or real — are not permitted on campus, and the college would address that issue.

She said that Dickinson President Margee Ensign was aware of the situation but currently dealing with a family emergency. Ensign wanted the school community to talk to each other in "supportive, constructive ways," according to Bylander.

The incident at Dickinson isn't the only offensive use of blackface and Kaepernick costumes this Halloween. 

Police at the University of Nevada apologized after an officer was seen wearing a Kaepernick shirt, a hooked nose and blackface. A South Dakota State man was seen in a photo wearing a similar costume.