Each time I mention Colin Kaepernick in a column, I hear from readers who don’t appreciate the former San Francisco 49er’s stance against police brutality toward African Americans.
I’m sure my inbox will fill up this time, too.
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But that’s fine.
I am genuinely curious as to what some of those who have emailed me in the past think about the viral video of a handcuffed George Floyd lying nearly motionless on the ground with a white police officer’s knee pressed against his neck for nine excruciating minutes. Do they brush it off?
Do they assume that this 46-year-old black father, who was accused Monday of presenting a counterfeit bill in a Minneapolis store, deserved what he got?
Do they pause, like me and so many others around the world, to watch in stunned horror as Floyd cries out for his mother and repeatedly tells the cop, “I can’t breathe?” Do their jaws hang like mine does as his life is literally snuffed out while under a police officer’s knee?
As they process what they see on that viral video, do their minds flash back to six years ago, when 43-year-old Eric Garner died in a similar fashion after being put in a choke hold by a New York City police officer?
And do they recognize the connection between what happened in Minnesota and what certain NFL players and Black Lives Matter activists have been protesting?
You really would have to be in denial not to recognize the similarities.
There are memes floating around social media that illustrate it better than I probably ever could. One shows a uniformed Kaepernick taking a knee next to a photo of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
In one version, the words over the photo illustration read, “Which knee bothers you more?” Another version, posted on Instagram by basketball great LeBron James, reads: “This … … Is why.” Underneath it, James wrote, “Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you?? #staywoke."
People need to look at them and really think about the messages they convey.
Kaepernick’s protests attempt to spotlight a long-festering problem in America, of police brutality against black people.
It’s nothing new.
Amy Cooper, the white New York City investment banker who called the police on a black male bird-watcher because he asked her to leash her dog, understands that very well. That’s why she deliberately tried to harm Christian Cooper, who is no relation, by siccing the cops on him.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she warns on a video of the incident.
She made a point of emphasizing that Christian Cooper, a 57-year-old Harvard grad and an avid bird-watcher, was African American.
Christian was smart to video record the encounter. Like Amy, he understands the plight of being a black man in America and what can happen when authorities or others come rushing in.
We had a graphic reminder recently. Ahmaud Aubery, a 25-year-old black man, had been jogging in Georgia when two white men — one a former cop — confronted and fatally shot him, saying they thought he was a burglary suspect. Even though this happened in February, no arrests were made until recently.
There’s nothing new about law enforcement mistreating black Americans, which is why Kaepernick and the other NFL players brought attention to the problem by kneeling during the national anthem.
That upset a whole lot of people, including President Donald Trump.
I’m sure I’ll hear from many of them who read this.
I’m fine with that.
But I also want to know this: Are they bothered by the killings of Floyd, Garner, and others at the hands of law enforcement?