Terence Crutcher and Kaepernick

Screen Capture Tulsa PD

Opinion piece.

Sep 20, 2016 (San Diego) We usually do not care what happens in sports. I will admit freely that my interest in sports is anywhere from low to non-existent. But there is something happening that was started by Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49rs that is spreading. That is taking a knee during the national anthem.

Many fans are outraged, just from the posts on Facebook and other social media How dare he not stand for the Anthem, it should be illegal or something, I read many people post. The problem is that this is   perfectly legal. The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1944 (in the midst of World War II mind you),  that school districts could not compel students to salute the flag, This decision is West Virginia State Board of Education v Barnette. 

Justice Hugo Black wrote in a concurring opinion of the majority a section that is very relevant today.

Words uttered under coercion are proof of loyalty to nothing but self-interest,” wrote Black and Douglas in a concurring opinion. “Love of country must spring from willing hearts and free minds, inspired by a fair administration of wise laws enacted by the people’s elected representatives within the bounds of express constitutional prohibitions.”

So we are asking players, because this protest is now spreading, to be coerced to stand for the anthem, without necessarily asking what they are protesting? Well, what they are protesting is precisely what happened over the weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Yet another African American man who was shot and killed by law enforcement, when his hands were up and he presented no threat to officers. Why was he shot? Due to the perceived threat, and this perceived threat seems to be the only thing going here. Terence Cruthcer was on the side of the road by a disabled vehicle.

Officers are saying that he refused to comply. So they used both a taser and a bullet. The facts of the case are not completely out yet, but the dash cam video is daming. Some of the radio traffic is as well. Officers showed at the very least a level of perceived bias that should scare all of us.

Many of the same fans who are enraged at Kaepernick, and now many others, including local High School students,  are also not saying a word about the NFL nominating a man serving time in prison  for rape to the NFL Hall of Fame. Nor do they seem to have said a thing about another 49 player who allegedly assaulted a woman. To the credit of the team, they let him go.

African Americans are not protesting a situation that is new. They are protesting something that has been happening for a long time. There are systems of social control in place, and they have been on the receiving end of them for generations. It is time for the rest of us to pay attention and stop judging when they do protest. It seems that it does not matter how the protest is done, we always find excuses to say it is wrong.

Oh and standing for what is right is protected speech. The Supreme Court no less, told you as much in the middle of a world war.

The protest is making some people uncomfortable. Good. Protests are not supposed to make you comfortable or make you not think. They are supposed to be problematic and raise issues to the level that we can fix them. It is beyond clear that until we as a society decide to hold all accountable, equally, this will continue to happen. But to do that, we have to aknowledge that those systems of social control are there, and that we need to change them, before they irrevocably change us. This means that we must start by admitting that there are problems with how we train police and how police are treated by the overall society. There are also systemic race issues, and we are not living in a post racial society.

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