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Antoine Bethea among players to join Colin Kaepernick's protest

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- As 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and safety Eric Reid kneeled during the playing of the national anthem in their continued gesture to raise awareness of social injustices against African-Americans and minorities in the United States, teammates Antoine Bethea and Eli Harold joined them before Monday's victory over the Rams.

Bethea and Harold stood for the anthem, but each raised a fist, as did Rams defensive end Robert Quinn and wide receiver Kenny Britt.

As for joining his teammates and other players and coaches from around the league who made varied gestures during the playing of the national anthem this past weekend, Bethea said, "I did it to keep the conversation going. A lot more guys in the league want to do it but they are afraid. You see (Broncos linebacker) Brandon Marshall already lost endorsements."

He went on: "I respect why Kap is doing it. I respect his purpose. This is not to disrespect anyone, but we have a platform and we have to bring awareness to the issues. Now, though, it's time to take the next step and take actions into the community."

Bethea said that, with the leadership of 49ers owner Jed York, a plan is being formulated to connect team leaders and possibly members of the team's front office with civic leaders and possibly law enforcement in the Bay Area.

The goal is to come up with plans to find solutions to some of the issues Kaepernick and other players have spoken about, such as what they view as overzealous police behavior toward minorities and a judicial system that fails to prosecute law enforcement officials accused of crimes. Bethea said players also want to hear from police and other civic officials to get a better understanding of their perspective.

"We need to take action now," Bethea said. "Hopefully, all parties will get involved and we can use something like this, and (use) our platforms and players and teams to find answers in other cities and communities."

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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