NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been criticized and praised for taking a knee during the national anthem in protest of racial inequality. Before Kaepernick, NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul made a plea for social change at the ESPYs in July. And following the fatal police shooting in North Carolina on Tuesday of Keith Scott, a 43-year-old black man, three athletes with ties to the area have spoken publicly about the incident.
“I’m an African-American. I am not happy with how justice has been dealt with over the years, the state of oppression in our community,” Cam Newton, quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, said in a press conference on Sept. 21.
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The reigning NFL Most Valuable Player went on to criticize how police departments throughout the country have handled the employment of officers who pulled the trigger in the deaths of black men in recent shootings. Multiple reports state that Brentley Vinson, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer who fatally shot Scott, is currently out on paid administrative leave while the case is under investigation. “The police brutality is embarrassing to even talk about,” Newton said. “When you sit up here and you list the names, it’s crazy to think about how did this even happen. How do police take a leave of absence and still get paid?”
NBA legend Michael Jordan also weighed in on the unrest in North Carolina following the loss of Scott’s life, issuing a statement on Thursday urging for peace in the area.
“In light of the tragic events of the past three days, it is more important than ever that we restore calm and come together, as a community, in peaceful demonstration and conversation, and in constructive and non-violent ways,” wrote Jordan, who is among the owners of the Charlotte Hornets. “As part of the fabric of Charlotte, the Hornets organization is committed to working with civic leaders, our elected leaders and law enforcement to foster more trust, transparency and understanding so we can heal and grow together as a community.” (According to various reports, windows at the Hornets team store at the Spectrum Center were broken, and merchandise was looted.)
Stephen Curry, the star guard for the Golden State Warriors who lived in North Carolina when his father, Dell, played for the Hornets, responded to the turmoil via Twitter: “Praying for my city! We deserve better than this.”
Praying for my city! We deserve better than this…#704 #KeithLamontScott
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) September 21, 2016
But not all athlete responses regarding the recent events in North Carolina have been promoting peace. Steve Clevenger, catcher for the Seattle Mariners, sent out multiple tweets via his personal Twitter account criticizing President Barack Obama, the Black Lives Matter movement, and athletes kneeling during the National Anthem in protest. Clevenger also said via Twitter on Thursday that “everyone involved should be locked behind bars like animals.” The tweets have since been deleted, but screenshots of them are still being shared on the social media platform.
The Mariners announced today via Twitter that Clevenger has been suspended by the team without pay.