"A call for justice shouldn't warrant an apology."
Andrew Hawkins is a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns (for anyone who has as little knowledge of sportsball as I do, that's a football team). Recently, Hawkins chose to draw attention to the unjust killing of black men in Ohio by the police. He walked out on the field before a game wearing a shirt that said, "Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford."
In response to Hawkins' t-shirt, the Cleveland Police Union demanded an apology, writing, "It's pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law. They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland Police protect and serve the Browns stadium, and the Browns organization owes us an apology."
In a pretty surprising move, however, the Browns responded with a statement of their own: "We have great respect for the Cleveland Police Department and the work that they do to protect and serve our city. We also respect our players' rights to project their support and bring awareness to issues that are important to them if done so in a responsible manner." Hawkins himself also gave a statement to the press about the incident — he's quoted in the graphic above, or you can watch his whole statement in the video below.
One part of the video worth noting is at 3:07, when Hawkins says "I'm not an activist in any way, shape, or form." At first I was kind of taken aback by that — he says it like "activist" is a dirty word. But he goes on to explain that as someone who lives in the public eye, he's always aware of the impact his opinions will have on his reputation. Because of that, he works very hard to keep his opinions to himself "99 times out of 100." This issue, however, was one that he felt was too important to keep to himself.
FACT CHECK TIME!
- Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old black male shot in November 2014 in a park in Cleveland, Ohio. He was carrying a toy gun. He died the next day.
- John Crawford was a 22-year-old black male who was shot to death while holding a toy gun in a Walmart in Ohio.
- Quotes in this post were pulled from an article on ESPN as well as the embedded video.