Navy SEALs suspend ties to museum following use of Kaepernick ‘target’ for military dog demonstration

The US Navy SEALs will suspend its ties to the privately run Navy SEAL Museum, which is not sponsored by the Navy, amid the fallout of a video filmed there that involved a military working dog demonstration using an individual wearing a Colin Kaepernick jersey as a target going viral.

“I have suspended our support to the Navy SEAL Museum as they conduct their own review of this incident,” said Rear Adm. Collin Green, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, which oversees the SEALs, in a message to the force that has been obtained by CNN.

The Navy had previously said it was investigating the matter after the video went viral on social media over the weekend

In a pair of nearly two-year-old videos that were posted in January, a man can be seen wearing a red jersey emblazoned with Kaepernick’s name and former player number during the working dog demonstration conducted by the museum. After a man in military fatigues begins the demonstration, a total of four military working dogs charge toward the jersey-wearing man and attack him, clinging to his arms and legs while a crowd of visitors watch on. The original videos have since been deleted

“While we have no indications that any (Naval Special Warfare) personnel, equipment, or animals took part in the demonstration that day this incident reflects upon us,” Green wrote, adding “While the museum is an independent non-profit organization and the participants were contracted employees from outside the DoD, in many ways, these facts are irrelevant. We have been inextricably linked to this organization that represents our history.”

He said that they would “revisit our relationship with the Museum when I am convinced that they have made the necessary changes to ensure this type of behavior does not happen again.”

The Navy SEAL Museum, which charges a fee for entry, “promotes family-friendly public education through interactive exhibits and artifacts, allowing patrons the opportunity to explore the history and heritage of the Navy SEALs,” according to its website, which says it also gives visitors “a glimpse into Navy SEAL training.” CNN has reached out to the museum for comment.

The group’s social media posts and information posted on their website suggest that the K9 demonstration, which the Navy said it became aware of on Sunday, was part of a museum event at the South Florida Shooting Club on November 4, 2018.

CNN has reached out to Phil Ryan, the handler for “Raven,” one of the dogs that attacked the man in the Kaepernick jersey, as well as Baden K9, a company that trains the dogs used during the demonstration. CNN has also reached out to the shooting club for comment.

Interest in the incident on social media comes as the nation continues to experience a reckoning with its racial history and treatment of Black Americans. Kaepernick, a former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, has become a polarizing figure in recent years after he began kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality, a move that has been criticized by President Donald Trump and others.

Kaepernick has been unsigned to a team since 2017, and has recently come to represent an unwavering force in the national movement for racial justice due to his controversial decision to kneel, which he has not expressed regret over despite the effects it has had on his professional and public profiles. This June, in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, the NFL commissioner apologized for the league’s position on the issue.

The event appears to have been one of several held that weekend by the museum in which NFL stand ins were attacked by military dogs. In another event, chronicled in a video on the museum’s Vimeo page, individuals surround a black SUV painted with the phrase, “TAKE A KNEE EH NIKE,” painted on it. That event also featured a man wearing a New England Patriots Tom Brady jersey being attacked by a K9.

CNN has viewed other K9 demonstrations that have been performed by museum personnel, and none of those demonstrations included the Kaepernick jersey seen in the viral videos.