The Browns wide receiver eloquently urges us all to “support the causes and the people and the injustices that you feel strongly about. Stand up for them. Speak up for them. No matter what it is because that’s what America’s about and that’s what this country was founded on.”
On Sunday during pre-game warm-ups for their game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns WR, Andrew Hawkins wore a t-shirt that read “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford.” The back read “The Real Battle for Ohio.”
Tamir Rice was the 12 year old that was shot last month by a Cleveland police officer who was investigating a complaint about a boy carrying a toy gun. Similarly, Crawford, 22, was shot and killed last summer in a Wal-Mart while holding an air pellet rifle.
From Derrick Rose to Reggie Bush to Jeremy Lin to the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Team, athletes are speaking out for social justice. Hawkins is the latest in a line of athletes that are speaking out against the police killings of unarmed black youths – most recently, in addition to Rice and Crawford, Michael Brown and Eric Garner – none of which has led to an indictment.
Just like the St. Louis Police Department reacted poorly to the Rams Ferguson-related protest, the Cleveland Police Union called Hawkins’ protest “pretty pathetic” and asked for an apology.
The following quotes are all from an extemporaneous statement that Hawkins made to the press at his locker.
Hawkins’ statement is available in full here.
1. Everyone Has a Right To Seek Justice
“I was taught that justice is a right that every American should have. Also justice should be the goal of every American. I think that’s what makes this country . . . . So a call for justice shouldn’t offend or disrespect anybody. A call for justice shouldn’t warrant an apology.”
2. There Are Good People and Bad People, Good Cops and Bad Cops
“I utterly respect and appreciate every police officer that protects and serves all of us with honesty, integrity and the right way. And I don’t think those kind of officers should be offended by what I did . . . . So my wearing a T-shirt wasn’t a stance against every police officer or every police department. My wearing the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons to innocent people.”
3. We Can Appreciate How Hard It Is To Be A Police Officer and Also Demand Consequences For Poor Decisionmaking
“Being a police officer takes bravery. And I understand that they’re put in difficult positions and have to make those snap decisions. As a football player, I know a little bit about snap decisions, obviously on an extremely lesser and non-comparative scale, because when a police officer makes a snap decision, it’s literally a matter of life and death. That’s hard a situation to be in. But if the wrong decision is made, based on pre-conceived notions or the wrong motives, I believe there should be consequence. Because without consequence, naturally the magnitude of the snap decisions is lessened, whether consciously or unconsciously.”
4. When You Know What You Have To Do, You Have To Do It
“I understood there was going to be backlash, and that scared me, honestly. But deep down I felt like it was the right thing to do. If I was to run away from what I felt in my soul was the right thing to do, that would make me a coward, and I can’t live with that. God wouldn’t be able to put me where I am today, as far as I’ve come in life, if I was a coward.”
5. Being a Father and Having Your Own Kid, It Drives It All Home
“I have a 2-year-old little boy. The same 2-year-old little boy that everyone said was cute when I jokingly threw him out of the house earlier this year. That little boy is my entire world. And the No. 1 reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me. And my heart was broken for the parents of Tamir and John Crawford knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality.”
What do you think of Hawkins statement? What resonates with you?
Photo Credit: Associated Press/Tony Dejak
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