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US Justice Ginsburg Judges Anthem Protests to Be 'Really Dumb'

San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold (58), quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and safety Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game Oct. 6, 2016.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Monday waded in to the controversy over American athletes protesting at sporting events against widely perceived racial inequality for African Americans.

Speaking to Yahoo! News, Ginsburg said she believes the protests are, in her words, "really dumb," aiming most of her criticism at San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The 28-year-old Kaepernick triggered a social media conversation in August when he refused to participate in the time-honored ritual of standing still before the start of athletic events while the American anthem is performed. He said he would not stand until he and other critics see substantive change in racial attitudes and police procedures used in routine interactions with African Americans.

Kaepernick's complaints began after months of high-profile confrontations between police and African Americans that have resulted in the deaths of citizens and police officers alike.

For her part, the 83-year-old Ginsburg called the anthem protests "dumb and disrespectful. "But she also said it would be "dangerous" to arrest people for conduct that "doesn't jeopardize the health or well-being of other people."

Kaepernick began his protests at three exhibition games by sitting while the anthem was performed.After consulting with a member of the U.S. Army, Kaepernick decided to kneel in protest as part of an effort to show respect for the U.S. military.

He also vowed to donate $100,000 each week to charities for the first 10 weeks of the National Football League season, and to funnel other funds to those same groupings.

Since launching his protests, Kaepernick has been joined by a number of other players who have either knelt during the Star Spangled Banner or raised their fists in protest as the anthem is performed.