Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Blue on Black Violence and the Protest of Star Athletes

Andrew Hawkins

I have few words to express the way I feel about these photos. Let me give you one: pride!

I never played football at the highest level (certainly not basketball!), but these pro players provide me with an immense sense of pride by not allowing they're celebrity status to distance them from their community. They show that no matter their wealth, status and their prominence, they understand the pain inflicted on the black community and they understand that they are a part of that same community.

Of course the pain of these losses, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, are felt far beyond the black community. Whites, Asian Americans, Jews, Catholics are joining in these protests. They understand the historic nature of such injustices. They have been touched in profound ways by these killings. Some have black friends and family members who have suffered humiliating injustices and who live with the pain of that humiliation. Still others know these men and their families personally. Others know full well, that if justice was denied these men, it is only a matter of time before justice is will be denied them!

Tamir Rice, the 12 year old boy shot to death after a seconds long 'encounter' with a policeman in Cleveland; John Crawford, the young man shot to death by police almost immediately after police encounter him with a shotgun in an Ohio Walmart; Eric Garner, choked to death by a policeman for allegedly selling single cigarettes; Michael Brown, the unarmed teen, shot to death by a Ferguson policeman, after a physical altercation. Brown, Garner and Rice's shooters all were no-billed by grand juries, sparking the question that has turned into a cry, "Black Lives Matter" in protests all across the country.

Kobe Bryant
These pro athletes and college athletes (like the Georgetown University Women' Basketball team) have joined those protests, peacefully using the prominence of their personality in refusing to let the memories of these men die...and I am proud of them.These protests are not a condemnation of every police officer.

Police union's effort to denigrate and get pro teams' officials to infringe upon these athletes right to protest, show a misunderstanding of the pain being inflicted on the black community. Particularly in Missouri and Ohio (where the President of the Patrolman's Union actually called it 'pathetic' when athletes 'think they know the law.'). The calls for these athletes' censure deserve protest and condemnation.

Everyone of us knows law enforcement officials who have been kind and helpful. I personally know police officers who have not only been blessings to the black community, but who have gone out of their way to help me understand their work. I have served as a pastor to several families of officers.  I'm grateful for them and don't hesitate to call on them when needed. All of that being said, this gratuitous taking of black lives must stop! The tired, questions of black on black violence must stop. We don't need to add to black on black crime by blue on black killing. We need accountable law enforcement that allows us to breathe and which understands just how much black lives matter!

Athletes, college and pro understand that!

Georgetown University Varsity Women's Basketball Team

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