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Athlete protests don't stop because the killings don't

Dolphins hold town hall

Dolphins safety Michael Thomas and linebacker Jelani Jenkins say they've received death threats through social media following their national anthem protest, but remain committed to push for better race relations, which is why they helped organize a town hall with police and youth leaders. "It's great a lot of people in our community, including our law enforcement, have the mindset of, 'Yes, there is something wrong,' " Thomas said Wednesday. "Something needs to change, and we're just looking for solutions and working together to find them." Thomas, Jenkins, running back Arian Foster and receiver Kenny Stills knelt together during the anthem at Miami's opener to protest social inequality. Reaction to the gesture by the four black players was sometimes ugly. The town hall took place in the team's meeting room. Several dozen attended, including high school coaches and representatives from at least three local law-enforcement agencies. "We had a lot of healthy conversation," Jenkins said. "A lot of people understand we can do things better as a community." Thomas and Jenkins noted that the meeting took place as protesters and police clashed in Charlotte, N.C., the latest city to erupt in violence over the death of a black man by police. "People aren't crying wolf — this is our reality," Thomas said. "People feel their lives are worth less than those who aren't of color."

— Associated Press

Editor's note: This column was written before the events in Charlotte, N.C.

An open-minded, liberal-leaning friend said this to me the other day as we discussed athlete activism and protests involving the national anthem:

"I get the cause, for sure. But hasn't the point been made? Why keep making it over and over?"

Hers was a rhetorical question, but the answer keeps coming. Different cities. Different victims. Same story. Unarmed black men being needlessly shot and killed by police.

The answer is that it hasn't stopped — Tulsa is just the latest example.

The answer is that, sometimes, to be heard, you have to shout. Sometimes, to be heard, you have to repeat yourself.

The irony is that the people who think these anthem protests should have run their course by now and the people outraged into action sometimes use the same words to express those feelings:

Enough is enough.

The difference is, one side says it as an exasperated plea that the sideline kneeling and raised fists during The Star-Spangled Banner should stop - sometimes mistaking it as un-American behavior when what it is is a call for a better America.

The other side says those three words as a frustrated demand that the unjustified killings stop first.

Tulsa is the latest seat of this national outrage that gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement and more recently to the Colin Kaepernick-inspired show of anger and solidarity by athletes. Does anyone believe Tulsa will be the last? What city will be the next to remind us that racial profiling and prejudice are alive and well in America in 2016?

It is fitting in a way that Kaepernick, the 49ers quarterback, who is of mixed race, began this athlete movement, because of course this should not be just a black cause; it should be an American cause. Shouldn't all of us be indignant over unarmed people being killed where race playing a role seems undeniable? That includes police themselves, that vast majority of whom are good and fair — but all of them put in a terrible spot because of the actions of a relative few.

My friend said of the protests, "Hasn't the point been made? Why keep making it over and over?"

It is because, all across the country, Tulsa seems to keep happening, over and over and over.

— Miami Herald (TNS)

Athlete protests don't stop because the killings don't 09/21/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 9:24pm]
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