BY Art Thiel 08:04PM 09/21/2017

Thiel: For justice, Bennett calls NFL to action

Michael Bennett and three other players proposed that the NFL dedicate an awareness month to the pursuit of equality, putting support behind the protests, not just permission.

Seahawks DE Michael Bennett took another step this week in leading the national discussion about social activism in sports. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Michael Bennett’s voice against social injustice just became louder, smarter and more irresistible.

Disclosure by Yahoo! Sports Wednesday of a lengthy memo (see below) from the Seahawks defensive end and three other NFL players to Commissioner Roger Goodell spelled out the causes behind the national-anthem protests. More strategically, included among several requests for support from the league was a call to dedicate an awareness month to social justice similar to what the NFL does for breast cancer awareness and supporting the military.

That is a direct public challenge to the NFL to provide more than lip service.

It asks the NFL, a national institution in the center of the American mainstream, to commit resources and time to a position on a provocative issue that will not be seen as benignly as fighting against disease or fighting for freedom.

It challenges NFL ownerships, 100 percent Caucasian, to support their players, who are 70 percent African-American, in action, not words. From the document:

To be clear, we are asking for your support. We appreciate your acknowledgment on the call regarding the clear distinction between support and permission. For us, support means: bear all or part of the weight of; hold up; give assistance to,  especially financially; enable to function or act.

The memo was delivered in August, following a private teleconference with Goodell. The parties agreed not to discuss the issues publicly. But the leaked memo ended the embargo and allowed Bennett, who co-signed with Malcolm Jenkins, 28,and Torrey Smith 29, of the Eagles and Anquan Boldin, 36, of the Bills, who were representing more than 40 players in a “Players Coalition,” to speak after practice Thursday.

“We haven’t gotten any reaction just yet,” Bennett said. “Hopefully, after having another meeting in the near future, something will come out of it. It’s just a thought of a lot of players coming together and having some ideas about how we can move forward and be able to impact the communities around the United States and the cities that the NFL teams are in.”

Asked about what this support would look like, Bennett said it included having organized meetings around the country where discussion participants wear T-shirts bearing messages about equality to promote awareness.

The memo also advocated a one-or two-day “listen and learn” tours for owners, executives and coaches of relevant places and people who are engaged in the pursuit of social justice.
Goodell and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie recently did such a tour.

Bennett, who along with his brother, Martellus, of the Green Bay Packers, was recently voted to a list of 100 Most Influential African Americans by the website The Root, and other anthem protesters have lamented that those who criticize the gesture fail to see the issues that drive the action, dismissively interpreting the acts as ungrateful and anti-American.

The protests began last season when 49ers Colin Kaepernick sat for an anthem and sparked a furious national debate about race and social activism in sports. Kaepernick bought out his contract and entered into free agency but remains jobless, sparking another debate about whether he is being blackballed. Overshadowed is Kaepernick’s donation of more than $700,000 to community organizations.

Bennett has sat on the team bench during the anthem each game this season, and has been joined by a white teammate, Justin Britt, and other players who stood alongside. Sunday against the 49ers, Bennett added a raised fist after a sack.

The release of the memo, Bennett said, ultimately was a good thing because it allows fans to see “that players are not only being great players . . . but are also being committed to their communities.’’

Bennett was asked about whether social activism is distracting him from football.

“I don’t think you get distracted,” he said. “I think it just opens you up and keeps you awake and keeps you alive into the now. I think sometimes as a person, you get consumed by your job and feel like you don’t have any awareness of what else is going on . . . to be able to be awake and be alive and be in the now and continuously understand is something I think is a blessing — to be able to have that ability to do your job, and also do more.”

The thoughtful articulation of specific issues in the memo gives substance beyond the anthem gesture, and its tone of requesting help instead of demanding reform creates a better chance for the NFL to find a way forward without defensiveness.

It’s a tricky navigation, and some critics will always reject the Players Coalition claims. But few platforms in the culture are as large as the NFL’s. If somehow the players and owners find some enlightenment together that proves meaningful and measurable, the memo created by Bennett and colleagues may be seen as another milestone in which sports helps lead the way.

———————————————-

MEMORANDUM

TO:

Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner

Troy Vincent, Executive Vice President, NFL Football Operations

FROM:

 Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles

Anquan Boldin, Buffalo Bills

Torrey Smith, Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks

RE:

Player Activism for Racial Equality and Criminal Justice Reform

OVERVIEW

As players who have been advocating for social justice for the past year, we appreciate the opportunity to engage with you, the league, owners, coaches and GMs to make our communities stronger. As we shared with you, the silence following our individual and collective demonstrations around the national anthem to raise awareness to racial inequality and issues surrounding criminal justice reform has been met with inconsistencies in press coverage and perceived lack of support.

To recap our discussion, currently there are more than 40 active players who have participated in our “Players Coalition” to work on criminal justice reform on various levels (some more than others). Below is a summary of the activities we have conducted to date.

Our focus has been to identify and place our efforts on the key areas of reform where our influence and support can make a meaningful difference in the community. Those include prioritizing Criminal Justice Reform and Police/Community Relations Engagement. Within those two areas that includes: police transparency/accountability, bail reform, criminalization of poverty, mass incarceration (mandatory minimum sentences, juvenile life parole) and Clean Slate Act, which also includes emphasis on diversion of funds towards community based programs, education and training. (More information below – see Addendum). Through Police/Community Relations & Engagement, we are working with grass roots organizations and police directly through various efforts to build trust within our communities and increase educational and employment opportunities.

Criminal Justice Reform (State, Local and Federal)

  • Visits to Capitol Hill and on the state/local level to meet with legislative groups, Senate/House Representatives from our home districts to lobby for reform through individual meetings and testimony before Committees
  •  Participation in Op-Eds, letters, emails, phone calls and recorded messages to legislators regarding specific criminal justice reform legislation and/or call to action to create legislation
  •  Participation in media interviews, campaigns and social media on specific issues and the larger goal
  • Participation in creative content (videos, PSAs)
  •  Participation in high-profile educational institutional events or Conferences, such as keynotes, panel discussions and participation in workshops
  •  Engagement with bi-partisan federal, state and local organizations and non-profit initiatives focused on criminaljustice reform to identify and receive information on legislative efforts, garner resources as well as support todistribute and amplify content/Op-Eds, letters, etc.

 Police/Community Relations & Community Engagement

  •  Listen & Learn Tours (visits to prisons, sit-down meetings with Police Commissioners/Captains, police ride-alongs)
  •  Inviting the police to participate in our Foundation and community-related work (camps, events, outreach)
  • Going into the Community, especially urban, poverty stricken and crime-laden communities to engage withfamilies to speak and understand the issues they are experiencing (i.e., the impact on the family both economically and emotionally when a family member is arrested, can’t make bail, has a record and the financial implications of not being able to find a job or get training to better themselves)
  •  Meetings and engagement with grass roots organizations and educational outlets who are doing work to move legislation and provide resources (legal support, education, career counseling, job placement) for formerly incarcerated individuals
  • Attending town halls to discuss issues and solutions
  • Financial support of groups/organizations, including personal donations as well as hosting events to raise funds or resources
  •  Visits to schools, community organizations and groups who are offering curriculum and attention to human rights issues

CALL TO ACTION

 To be clear, we are asking for your support. We appreciate your acknowledgment on the call regarding the clear distinction between support and permission. For us, support means: bear all or part of the weight of; hold up; give assistance to,  especially financially; enable to function or act. We need  support, collaboration and partnerships to achieve our goal of  strengthening the community. There are a variety of ways for you to get involved. Similar to the model we have in place for players to get involved, there are three tiers of engagement based on your comfort level.

To start, we appreciate your agreement on making this an immediate priority. In your words, from Protest to Progress, we need action. This would entail you and other interested owners, coaches and GM’s participating in a Listen & Learn tour (a one/two-day tour) to gain the same knowledge and understanding of the issues and impact on the community. This would include a prison tour, meetings with grass-roots organizations, policy makers/non-profit leaders, police, families in the community and formerly incarcerated individuals.

Other ways we would like to pursue engagement are as follows. Depending on the individual’s level of interest, the involvement can vary.

  1. National level – This section will be focused on national/regional attention on the need for CJR and generating publicity, along with working on meaningful legislation when possible. By joining this effort, you agree to participate in conference calls when possible, commit to the next trip to Capitol Hill to meet with Congress, lend your name to Op-Eds, letters to legislators, press opportunities and social media for specific campaigns.
  2.  State level – With support from the Coalition’s partners, meet with local legislators (Senator, Congress representative) in your state/district to discuss specific legislation. A representative would accompany and provide talking points/supportive statements. Your presence and willingness to support will help propel movement. State level is where there are a lot of opportunities to move legislation. This also includes testifying, meetings with state government officials and business leaders, Police Commissioner/Mayor’s Office, District Attorney Office, non-profit and grass roots organizations, Op-eds, PSA’s and so forth. The promise of impact here is very real and the players have tons of leverage on the state level because of who they are.
  3. Support with Community – If time doesn’t permit to attend or participate in meetings, you agree to lend support through financial commitment or resources to grass roots organizations and community-based organizations whom are doing the real work to impact criminal justice reform and the larger community at whole. Each city/market will be defined by need regarding key areas where you can lend the most support. We are also looking for a commitment to team resources, including broadcast/multi-media opportunities to share content (videos, PSAs featuring players) around specific issues we are trying to impact. This is a bi-partisan approach toward solutions and not politically driven.

Areas of support from our team will include:

A player and/or representative will work with you for all talking  points & messaging (you will never have to be the policy expert, just the convener). You will also get regular updates and shared  communications.

 LEAGUE WIDE SUPPORT

To counter the vast amount of press attention being referred to as the “national anthem protests” versus the large amount of grass roots work that many players around the league have invested their time and resources, we would like to request a league wide initiative that would include a month dedicated to a campaign initiative and related events. Similarly to what the league already implements for breast cancer awareness, honoring military, etc, we would like November to serve as a month of Unity for individual teams to engage and impact the community in their market.

As you stated, each team/market has their own specific issues currently affecting economic and community growth due to mass incarceration, police-related incidents, lack of educational opportunities for poverty-stricken neighborhoods, etc. Through a concerted effort with team and player support with an emphasis on PR, grass roots organizations who are doing the real work could benefit in a big way to improve our communities.

TIMELINE FOR EXECUTION

 Week of August 21st – Conference Call with Players Coalition Leaders with all Owners/Coaches/GMs who have expressed interest. Agenda to follow with more detailed information regarding involvement

Week of August 25-Sept 5 – Participation in Listen & Learn Tour

September 1-2 – Optional Participation in Philadelphia ( Malcolm Jenkins hosted event, meetings and filming session for PSAs)

Week of September 4 – Commitment from Owners/Coaches/GMs. Participation in Development of Announcement/PR Exclusive

September 9 – Announcement of Owners/Players Support going into Opening Day

Week of September 10 – Additional Conference Call with Fall Timeline

Addendum

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM BACKGROUND

The national leaders in criminal justice reform have identified  the following areas in which we are placing our focused efforts  because they are the key issues crippling our communities. The  upside is that there are legislative efforts currently in development or up for a vote in which our participation and  support will lead to a positive outcome towards reform. One of  the biggest messages we heard in our meetings in Capitol Hill  and on the State/local level is that there is bipartisan support for  reform, but in order for change to happen, the legislative efforts  need to be made a priority. By joining our efforts, we can make a  significant impact.

Police Accountability and Transparency

Since 2016, police have shot over 300 men and women in this country. Some of the names and stories are familiar—Jordan Edwards, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, but hundreds of others are not. Unarmed black people are five times as likely to be shot and killed as unarmed white people. Over the last several years, grassroots activists have pushed for change in the face of considerable push-back from police unions and other law enforcement. We need advocates to push for reform on the national level and locally, where groups are demanding oversight boards and better training, and are begging prosecutors to hold law enforcement accountable.

Bail Reform

Across the country, local jails are packed with people who have not been convicted of any crime but can’t afford bail. People are often forced to plead guilty just to end a case rather than sit in jail for months on end awaiting trial. Poor people and communities of color are especially harmed by cash bail policies. Research is clear that people are more likely to commit a crime upon release if they are held in jail for periods beyond a couple of days. Bail disrupts employment and families in communities that are already struggling.

In New York, for example, Kalief Browder, then a 16 year-old child, was arrested on suspicion that he stole a backpack. Since he could not afford the $3,000 bail, Browder was held in solitary confinement at Rikers for three years without trial. Less than a year after his release, the trauma from his imprisonment contributed to his suicide.

The bail reform movement is advocating for eliminating cash bail and only holding people who pose a clear risk to the community. Advocacy is needed at the national, state, and local level to put pressure on legislators and prosecutors. One incredibly important step for achieving bail reform is to make the need for reform increasingly salient. Recently, both Common and Jay Z have lent their expertise and platform to the issue.

Criminalizing Poverty

People are arrested and incarcerated in this country because of their poverty. Local governments enact and enforce laws that punish people for sleeping on the street or in public parks, even when they have nowhere else to go. People living in struggling communities also receive fines and fees for small traffic violations, open container laws, or jaywalking. When they can’t afford to pay the fines, they are later arrested for failure to pay. They inevitably cannot make bail and then sit in a jail functioning as a debtor’s prison.

There are serious reform efforts at the local level to encourage local governments and law enforcement to stop wasting resources jailing poor people and instead invest in long-term solutions to address poverty. These issues arise in almost every American city, from New York to San Diego to Houston.

Drug Crimes

There is a nationwide understanding that the drug war of the last three decades has failed to reduce drug use while providing no clear benefit to communities. It has disproportionately affected people of color and the poor. Polling shows that Americans across the ideological spectrum realize we can’t arrest our way out of a drug epidemic and we should instead address drug issues from a public health perspective. Despite this enormous change in public opinion, law enforcement continues to arrest for drug crimes and prosecutors insist on overly harsh sentences. The opiate epidemic has led to new harmful policies based on fear rather than science, and prosecutors across the country are charging homicide in drug overdose scenarios. Drug addicts and low level drug dealers are facing murder for an addict’s overdose leading to death.

Reform efforts are concentrated at the state and local level advocating for decriminalization of many drug crimes, de-prioritizing the enforcement of existing low level drug laws, increasing treatment availability, and backing off of fear based rather than science based charging policies. Advocacy is needed at the national, state, and local level.

Treating Kids Like Kids

Each day, around 10,000 children are held in adult jails and prisons. Policies that allow children to be charged as adults ignore scientific research about brain development and impulse control. Research also shows that young people can be rehabilitated and become productive members of the community. Adult jails and prisons do not offer necessary programs to help a child mature out of crime. In fact, children are often traumatized in adult jail, setting them up for overwhelming challenges upon release.

Advocates in several states are pushing for legislation to prevent prosecutors from unilaterally charging kids as adults without judicial oversight or defense representation (“direct file”). And grassroots activists, public defenders, and juvenile experts are pressuring elected officials to simply stop charging kids as adults so that they can stay in juvenile programming, where they belong. Help is needed in all cities to pressure elected officials and help push potential legislation over the edge.

EXCESSIVE SENTENCES

Mandatory Minimums

Mandatory minimums – required sentences attached to certain crimes– have led to the explosion of our prison population. Requirements of egregiously long sentences for certain crimes, including for first time convictions, harms communities and ignores individual circumstances that would allow for rehabilitation.

Advocacy is needed to push legislation across the country to reform mandatory minimums. The harsh federal drug sentences are well-documented, but similar mandatory minimum laws exist through the country. In Baltimore, council members are currently considering stiff mandatory minimum penalties for gun possession. Prosecutors have extraordinary power. Advocates can encourage prosecutors to refrain from charging people with an offense that has a mandatory minimum and instead elect to file a lesser offense with a shorter sentencing range. They can also encourage powerful prosecutors to support the end to harsh mandatory minimum legislation.

Juvenile Life Without Parole

The United States is the only nation that sentences children to life without parole without any possibility of release. Despite the fact that children’s brains are not fully developed – particularly the part regulating decision making and judgement – thousands of children have been sentenced to death behind bars. They cannot buy alcohol or vote, but they can spend a lifetime in an 8 by 10 cell.

Recently, the Supreme Court has recognized that most if not all children can be rehabilitated, pointing to evidence that crime rates plummet as children enter their thirties. It has concluded that Juvenile Life Without Parole should be extremely limited. In response, many states, including Texas and Colorado, have abolished JLWOP at least prospectively, acknowledging that children deserve second chances. Legislation has also come close to succeeding but failed in other places – most recently, in Louisiana. Strong advocates are needed to push these bills over the line.

Advocates are also needed to convince prosecutors to stop seeking JLWOP and give kids a second chance. Michigan, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania all have extraordinary numbers of people facing life without parole for crimes they committed as a kid. Prosecutors should be encouraged to do the right thing and give these individuals, many of whom have already served upwards of thirty years, a second chance at life.

Clean Slate Legislation and Advocacy

A conviction or arrest of any kind can be one of the greatest barriers to a formerly incarcerated person’s effective reentry into society. An employer runs a background check, finds he has a marijuana or a robbery charge, and won’t hire him. These leads to unemployment and often, to more crime.

Legislation is pending in Pennsylvania to automate what is generally an extremely difficult expungement process, making it easy for people with older, minor offenses to get their records sealed. Records will automatically be sealed within two months of a person’s eligibility. Athletes and others can support this legislation by writing op-eds, speaking to legislators privately or in hearings, or even tweeting about it and attending town halls. In other jurisdictions, athletes can encourage their community to demand similar litigation.


YourThoughts

  • Tman

    Gentlemen, Start your engines. Reform cannot come soon enough.

    • art thiel

      This could be the best start in a long while.

  • Starri98

    the fact that this letter exists is the only one of the reasons i support Kaepernick and his stance and protest. there is no reason to question why he is doing so. the people who claim such major offense to Kaepernick are the same sources of discontent and disrespect that won’t allow me to support the flag as a symbol. i find no value in a flag representing a nation that approves of, demands, sanctions, has love and pride for the continuation of racism and discrimination. especially against and towards it’s own citizens. these things are the proof of MY personal lack of value to my country and i do not comprehend why that’s so difficult to understand or actually respect since i am a human being supposedly “created equal” according to the constitution of my birth country’s very own propaganda represented by the flag, military, and Christian beliefs.

    • art thiel

      Part of what the letter is asking is a reiteration of the old saying, “walk a mile in my shoes.” That is what I believe you’re seeking — awareness of lives marginalized by the mainstream.

      • Starri98

        EXACTLY!!! the concept that human beings cannot distinguish between right and wrong is clearly false. thus the truth is especially that they refuse to comprehend the pain and horror of injustice because “they don’t walk in my shoes!!!” persistent and ferocious attitude of NOT my problem on display. my belief is this is a complete and decisive CHOICE to not change or acknowledge someone else’s humanity which costs nothing except learning respect.

  • Steed

    NFL owners are on the wrong side of most of the issues raised by Bennett and his cohorts. But they may see it as a good PR move to support this, or they may see it as something that would alienate certain fans. Stay tuned.

    • art thiel

      There is no way that any decision won’t alienate some people. It’s the cost of doing business the right way.

      • roger_lococco

        You don’t get to define the right way and the wrong way, Art.

        Hate to break it to you.

        • art thiel

          If a non-confrontational request for support isn’t a right way, dunno what is. But I’m sure you know better.

        • Effzee

          But apparently you do?

  • DJ

    Thanks Art. A very impressive effort by these gentlemen. The value that the NFL could bring to this effort and therefore this country regarding visibility is immensely greater than the individual protests – altogether, in short, it’s just a great, well thought out plan.
    We have seen through science fiction of Utopian societies of the future, but then they seem such and unrealistic possibility when we see the social issues that still exist. Even so, I and most Caucasian folks have been unaware that many of the examples given in the content of the letter. We are so far away from accomplishing any sort of utopia (pardon if I’m not using the term correctly).
    When Reverend King was assassinated, I was chosen to distribute the notice to the other classrooms around my gradeschool – I was young but respected that this was a very sad but significant event and since then have always believed that the various inequities projected on minorities should be leveled. The plan described could be very powerful. I really appreciate what Michael Bennett and the others are trying to do, and am proud of them for it.

    • art thiel

      The memo lays out a series of injustices that are poorly understood by many of us, as you point out, yet largely supported by data. And the nature of the approach to the NFL is not confrontational. A smart play.

  • tor5

    That’s an impressive memo, and hopeful. I like the way Bennett is going about this. I’ve noted that in his public comments he’s been careful to refer to “oppressed people everywhere” and other kinds of inclusive statements. And I notice in the memo that it consistently refers to people of color AND the poor. Wouldn’t it be cool if they could build a coalition of sorts. In my view, there are nefarious forces that always seek to make this a black vs. white conflict, and the angry left plays right into it. Of course, race is a huge part of inequality and most police misbehavior. But if people of color and, say, poor rural whites could see their common struggle, you’d really have something.

    • Steed

      The angry left is angry because of these issues of inequality. Justified anger.

      Poor rural whites need to stop voting against their own interests. So many of them are on government assistance and Obamacare, but they still voted for people who want to stop those benefits. Because they seem to think it’s only those “other” people who are going to lose their government assistance, not the poor rural whites.

      • tor5

        Yes. I’m agreeing. We need to rally around what unites, not reinforce what divides.

      • art thiel

        More than we like to admit, many of us yearn for simple solutions to complex problems. Like all populist demagogues, Trump offered simple solutions. Very appealing to a lot of desperate people, who end up voting against their own interests.

    • art thiel

      I thought it was important to publish the entire memo so readers could understand the depth that went into it. This is a big damn deal, whether sports fans like it. And since I’m writing after seeing Trump’s unhinged Huntsville rant, it became much more significant.

  • Effzee

    Hard to paint any of this as whining. Intelligent, thoughtful, pointed effort on their part. Bravo!

    One question… Isn’t Shahid Khan non-Caucasian? I don’t think the NFL is 100% white-owned anymore.

    • art thiel

      He is a U.S. citizen of Pakistani heritage who came to the U.S. at 16. Good point.

  • Jamo57

    For quite some time I have wondered when would we begin to grapple with “what’s the end game” to this divide we’ve created for ourselves. Gandhi’s admonition about “an eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind” shows how central to the human condition this issue has been over time.

    Overlaying the CTE problem the NFL also has to deal with and I sit here in wonder in considering what that leaves out in terms of human experience for us to consider.

    I’m at a loss for words, or at least will fit in 140 characters….

    Thank you again, Art for the thoughtful serious reporting.

    • art thiel

      Thank you, Jamo. It just grew more intense with Trump’s Huntsville rant. He saved the most profane belligerence of his presidency for black men who protest.

  • roger_lococco

    leftwingpressnw.com

    • Steed

      That’s fair. Reporting the facts is a very left wing thing.

      • art thiel

        It’s why I published the entire memo. Judge for yourself.

    • Effzee

      I see. Anything that takes too much braining to read = left wing.

    • art thiel

      Affiliated with commonsense.com

  • SezU1

    Wow! So impressed. I agree with everything in the players’ memo to the NFL. Let’s do it! What a great plan! Wouldn’t it be amazing if the Seahawks and the NFL implemented these suggestions? Never been a football fan, however, I’m now a huge fan of these players. Thank you to Art Thiel for this detailed story and thank you to all the players who are trying to make our country a better place. Great leadership. If the football thing doesn’t work out, please run for Congress. We need you.

  • Will Ganschow

    As the string pullers of the country again attempt to pull the healthcare rug out from underneath the feet of some thirty million people, it is very encouraging to witness the thoughtful proactive efforts of this influential group.

  • Starri98

    Michael Galey • a day ago
    It’s so sad to see this very good blog turn into a Presidential hate fest. Goodbye Art Thiel. I’ve been a reader and have posted comments to this and the PI for a long time. I’ve been up here in the Pacific Northwest for over 35 years and have been a 12th man fan since there was Huddles a mascot which I loathed. To say that only one player was singled out of President Trumps mouth is a stretch here is what he tweeted, “We’re proud of our country. We respect our flag. Wouldn’t you love to see one of our NFL owners when someone disrespects our flag to say, ‘Get that son of a b***h off the field right now … he’s fired!’” So where is Michael Bennets name? As for the flakes that think D T is an idiot try to fathom the thinking whilst in Vietnam to have to call in where the hostile fire is coming from before returning fire? Or eliminating Cigarettes from our Combat Rations due to being unhealthy for you! We used to say that fighting for peace is liken to fornicating for virginity!! What about other bone headed actions have other president’s have done? The National Standard is sacred to me and to be like those flower children and burn it or walk on it is an affront to the dignity that I have for it. As a two tour Vietnam veteran I become so enraged that people would dare to become disloyal and ignore what that standard stands for. If there is any hope of uniting this country then get involved with your city officials to weed out the criminal cops and listen, read up and act on civilized protest to unjustified actions. Best Regards in the future Art Thiel, your still a friend SGT (ret) Michael T Galey

    •Reply•Share ›

    Avatar
    Starri98 Michael Galey • 7 minutes ago
    Michael Galey i am your replacement as you say goodbye and proud to be so as i only found this site BECAUSE of the protests by athletes (finally) against injustice in their country. I repeatedly have said and will continue to say that america, among its numerous faults, is an extremely petty and insecure country that LOVES to fight.

    Mr. Colin Kaepernick began his admirable and essential protest by taking to his knee in reaction to brutal police murders of African american CITIZENS at an insidious and alarming rate and WITHOUT justice for them or their loved ones. Not once have i heard or read anything as a statement directly from Colin to say different. I completely agree with Colin and i too will NOT stand for a flag or anthem that represents MY destruction for exercising my birth rights as an American born citizen. As a free, conscious, intentional, and GOD created and GOD serving human being, i will never choose another’s ideas as my own. I am equally ferocious about NEVER seeking or requiring neither permission nor approval to do the things I KNOW are right. If and when the flag and anthem truly represents ALL citizens as human beings without conditions other than truth, honor, dignity, and respect there is absolutely no reason to stand.

    as for your statement that the blog is akin to a “presidential hate fest” i don’t agree with your assessment but i can think of few people who deserve it more for no other reason than he earned the hate all on his own. I don’t hate him because it would require too much effort that he is completely unworthy of. For me he is an embarrassment, ignorant, devoid of humanity, crass, divisive, cowardly, devious, pompous, shameful, and obstinate. In other words he is the presiDUNCE who most definitely is an extremely poor representation of the nation to the world.

    Personally President Barack H. OBAMA never brought feelings of shame or embarrassment for me even when i disagreed with him.

  • ePlurbusUnum

    There is an assumption built into the long list of actions and issues included in the memo – the assumption is that all problems that exist either result from someone other than the individual or can best be fixed by someone other than the individual. But, before I would recommend that the NFL, the police, the government, etc. go off having sessions, enacting laws, etc., I think there is a lack of agreement that these problems haven’t already been addressed. And, are we all open to the possibility that there are actions by the individual which are the best solution to the concerns being raised?

    Laws already exist to codify equal treatment based on race. Governmental structures already exist to enforce those laws. Policies and training already exist within law enforcement agencies that focus on treating citizens properly, according to their conduct and according to their adherence to the law. Police officers who shoot citizens of any color are investigated, and, when the evidence leads us there, put on trial and even convicted of crimes. Racist behavior and language ist condoned by almost no one in our society, and employers/schools/agencies/etc. do not tolerate any forms of racism. So, there are lots of solutions that have been enacted to promote equality and eliminate racism. Are we really ready to have an honest discussion about why some people experience bad outcomes in life? Are we willing to look hard at the numbers and perhaps end up concluding that the problems are not as widespread as some wish to propose? If we are willing to have an honest discussion, then let the data and common sense lead us where they will. And, it will be no surprise that there are actions that all sides can take to be part of reducing or eliminating the most troubling problems.