Luke's Gospel: Kaepernick Protest Bears Fruit in Miami
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
The way Booker T. Washington High football coach Tim "Ice" Harris tells it, police sometimes stop his players on their way home from practice. Then the cops force these amazing young athletes to lie on the ground. Officers just assume they're criminals.
Ice's description of his players' treatment was just one chilling moment of a gathering in the Miami Dolphins' team meeting room last week. A couple dozen people, including community activists and top police officials, discussed ways to prevent police from recklessly killing unarmed black people.
They came at the invitation of four Dolphins players who joined San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protest of the National Anthem. "We had some really healthy dialogue," said linebacker Jelani Jenkins, one of the four. "People really cared about the community."
Jenkins and three of his teammates, as well as other players around the league, are raising awareness of a problem that African-Americans began fighting in the Civil Rights era. Decades later, similar scenes continue to play out across America. In Charlotte, North Carolina, violent protests erupted over the killing of Keith Scott, a black man shot by an officer the same day the Dolphins held their meeting.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools Police Chief Ian Moffett, an African-American and a friend, claimed that laws apply to cops the same as civilians. That's just not true. I told him that Florida makes it virtually impossible to convict a cop for killing a person who poses no threat. The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office has not indicted a cop since the 1980s.
I urged the NFL stars to show up at commission meetings to demand funding for groups such as the Liberty City and Overtown Optimist Clubs. It's not enough to protest and give away bookbags.
I left the meeting feeling hopeful. We have reinforcements in our struggle to be treated fairly.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.