Statement of Solidarity With Michael Bennett

A remarkable coalition of athletes, activists, and academics has come together in solidarity with Michael Bennett against the slander being put forward to discredit him by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Las Vegas Police Protective Association. Their statement of support follows.

Statement of Solidarity With Michael Bennett

We, the undersigned, stand with Michael Bennett, a professional football player with the Seattle Seahawks, philanthropist and activist, following an incident of police brutality in Las Vegas. On the morning of August 27th, a reported shooting on the Vegas strip led to chaos. Michael Bennett ran for cover, as did hundreds of others. Instead of being assisted, video and photographic evidence shows that Las Vegas police targeted Bennett, put him on the ground in handcuffs while the primary officer took out a weapon and placed it near the back of his head. According to Bennett, the officer said that if Bennett moved, he would “blow [his] fucking head off.” Bennett was then put in a police car, and after a period of time let go without charges.

We condemn this act of racial profiling and excessive force perpetrated by the Vegas police against Mr. Bennett.

This story is awful enough. The response by the Las Vegas police union has been even worse. They have issued a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling for Bennett to be investigated for “obvious false allegations against our officers.” Instead of refuting these allegations, the police union made reference to Bennett’s protests of the national anthem, writing, “While the NFL may condone Bennett’s disrespect for our American Flag, and everything it symbolizes, we hope the league will not ignore Bennett’s false accusations against our police officers.” They are, in effect, using Bennett’s political protest as a pretext to investigate him.

Since Bennett publicized his encounter with the LVMPD, a spokesperson for the police has confirmed that it is conducting an investigation of Bennett to determine “Whether Mr. Bennett was involved in the altercation at the hotel casino prior to his detention on Las Vegas Boulevard.” This is clearly an act of retaliation against Bennett for speaking out against police brutality. It is also a gesture of intimidation against anyone else who would dare challenge the right of the Las Vegas police department to act with impunity. This is unacceptable.

Michael Bennett has been sitting during the anthem precisely to raise these issues of racist injustice that are now an intimate part of his life. Now we stand with him.

Signed,

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf—Nine-year NBA veteran; Civil-rights activist
Chris Borland—Former NFL player
Sue Bird—Seattle Storm
John Carlos—1968 Olympian; author of The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed The World
Angela Davis—Author of Freedom Is a Constant Struggle
Harry Edwards—Consultant: San Francisco 49ers; professor emeritus at UC Berkeley
Noura Erakat—Human-rights attorney; assistant professor at George Mason University
Eddie Glaude Jr.—Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton; author of Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul
Melissa Harris-Perry—Author of Sister Citizen; director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University
Craig Hodges—Ten-year NBA veteran; author of Long Shot
Colin Kaepernick—Co-founder, Know Your Rights Camp
Patrisse Khan-Cullors—Co-founder, Black Lives Matter
Naomi Klein—Author of No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need
Macklemore—Seattle-based, Grammy Award–winning artist
Dave Meggyesy—Former NFL player; author of Out of Their League
Ibtihaj Muhammad—Olympic medalist, entrepreneur and activist
Martina Navratilova—Tennis icon
Bree Newsome—Artist and civil-rights activist
Imani Perry—Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University; author of More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States
Kevin Powell—Lecturer; author of Who’s Gonna Take The Weight
Megan Rapinoe—Seattle Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League
Eric Reid—Strong Safety, San Francisco 49ers
Arundhati Roy—Booker Prize–winning author, The God of Small Things
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor—Assistant professor of African American Studies at Princeton University; author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.
Michael Skolnik—Co-founder, The Soze Agency
Breanna Stewart—Seattle Storm
Etan Thomas—Ten-year NBA veteran; author of We Matter: Athletes and Activism
Opal Tometi—Co-founder, Black Lives Matter
Heather Ann Thompson—Professor of history, Department of Afro-American and African Studies at the University of Michigan; Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy
Cornel West—Professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard University
Jesse Williams —Actor and activist
Dave Zirin—Sports editor, The Nation magazine

Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to dave@edgeofsports.com.
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