There’s a reason Colin Kaepernick risked his football career to protest brutality during the 2016 NFL season. Such reasoning was perfectly illustrated in the arrest of fellow football player Michael Bennett in Las Vegas last Saturday.
On Wednesday morning, the Seattle Seahawks defensive end posted a letter to Twitter in which he recounted a disparaging encounter with Las Vegas police. In the post, Bennett claimed he was leaving the highly buzzed about August 26 boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor when he heard gunshots. The athlete said he was then aggressively apprehended by law enforcement officials.
— Michael Bennett (@mosesbread72) September 6, 2017
“Las Vegas police officers singled me out and pointed their guns at me for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time,” the 31-year-old wrote. “As I laid on the ground, complying with his commands not to move, [the police officer] placed his gun near my head and warned me that if I moved he would ‘blow my f—ing head off.'”
He also said the placement of the other cop’s knee on his back made it difficult to breathe and that the handcuffs were so tight, his fingers became numb. TMZ Sports released video footage of the incident, below, on Wednesday.
“I felt helpless as I lay there on the ground handcuffed facing the real life threat of being killed. All I could think of was ‘I’m going to die for no other reason than I am black and my skin color is somehow a threat,” he continued.
Once the officers realized the seasoned football player was an established public figure, he said the officers let him walk.
“I have always held a strong conviction that protesting or standing up for justice is just simply, the right thing to do,” he said.
Just as with Kaepernick, the Louisiana native said these values are the reason he refuses to partake in the pre-football game tradition of standing during the recitation of the national anthem.
“Equality doesn’t live in this country and no matter how much money you make, what job title you have, or how much you give, when you are seen as a ‘N****r,’ you will be treated that way. The system failed me. I can only imagine what Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Charleena Lyles felt,” he wrote.
Kaepernick, Bennett’s fellow national anthem kneeler, shared his indignation over the incident in a show of support for Bennett.
This violation that happened against my Brother Michael Bennett is disgusting and unjust. I stand with Michael and I stand with the people. pic.twitter.com/TqXFiso6lk
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 6, 2017
Others tweeted messages of support to Bennett as well.
— COMMON (@common) September 6, 2017
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) September 6, 2017
— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) September 6, 2017
MSNBC’s Joy Reid chimed in on the discussion by inquiring as to whether or not an apology was in the works from Las Vegas police.
So is Michael Bennett gonna get an apology from this police department? https://t.co/QtszyeWtEx
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) September 6, 2017
A devoted philanthropist, Bennett was a recipient of BET’s Shine Your Light Award along with his brother and Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett in June. He was one of a small number of football players vocalize his support of Kaepernick’s protest last year. The husband and father of three also pledged to donate all of the kickbacks from his 2017 endorsements to organizations which cater to black women.
Bennett has tapped Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris to represent him in his pursuit of legal retribution against the Vegas police department. Burris told the Ass
His arrest painfully illustrates the significance of Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality. On Thursday, Kaepernick’s free agent status for the 2017 NFL season will be finalized as a result of what appears to be penance for his intolerance of the same racialized police violence Bennett experienced.