“Haters gonna hate” no matter what, according to Denver Police Chief Robert White, in regards to the Broncos’ Brandon Marshall.
But any reasonable person has to applaud Marshall for taking the next logical step after his protest. Even if you hate the manner in which he protested.
Marshall chose to kneel during the national anthem last Thursday night in Denver’s season opener with Carolina. He and a few other NFLers have joined Colin Kaepernick’s protest that is designed to bring attention to their perceived injustices in the black community in relation to police.
I’ve stated that these players have every right to protest peacefully in any manner they choose. My main concern is players not knowing enough about the issues they are bringing into the national sports’ spotlight. It’s easy for millionaire athletes to sit inside their gated communities and make judgments based on sensationalized TV news reports designed to get ratings as opposed to reporting accurately.
Diving deeper into the issues on a street level takes effort. It’s fairly easy to make a stance during the national anthem, to basically say things are jacked up in the United States. Especially for those doing the protest after Kaepernick started the ball rolling and the “backlash” was his jersey hitting the top of the bestseller list.
Brandon Marshall is taking some real action beyond just wagging his finger at lawmen across the nation. The Denver Post reported that Marshall had a meeting with Denver’s police chief to discuss the 27-year-old linebacker’s concerns.
Face-to-face talks will do more to ease these racial tensions than 500 pregame protests. But it took the protests to move to this next logical step, with one of the players meeting with a high-level police officer.
White was correct in saying “haters gonna hate.”
There will be cops who say he shouldn’t waste his time with a disrespectful whipper snapper who’s lucky to have been born in a land where he has the opportunity to play a game for a living.
And there will be people on Marshall’s side of the fence that say he should not sully himself by meeting with a member of an abusive institution.
But if those voices are allowed to win the day, this situation will never improve. There will always be rogue cops who break the very laws they are paid to enforce. And there will always be pissed off folks just looking for an excuse to destroy property under the guise of a protest.
Reasonable people have to come together so they can see from the others’ viewpoint. A debate on TV is worthless. Marshall riding along with the Denver police department will give him a real world view of what they are dealing with. And a police chief with an open mind listening to this young man will help him to understand the protests on a deeper level.
During White’s press conference with a few reporters, he made some key points about his meeting with Marshall.
– White said Marshall was very respectful in their meeting and seemed sincere about finding solutions.
– He commended the linebacker on taking the first step with the protest and said: “now what are you going to do to address the problem?”.
– He asked Marshall not to paint all police officers with a broad brush, even though the young player told him of some personal negative interactions with the law. The chief told reporters that he himself had also had negative experiences with the police in his youth.
– White told Marshall about a “shoot, don’t shoot scenario simulator” his department uses. And Marshall agreed to go through the program in order to get a feel for what officers face in their worst moments on the streets.
I don’t expect this one meeting between an NFL player and a police chief to change the world overnight. Still, it should create some positive momentum for more players to dig deeper into these racial issues. Beyond that, average citizens everywhere should begin conversations with their local police.
There is a big disconnect between most police forces and the community that they are supposed to serve. That has to change, for the safety of the officers and the citizens.
Just like Chief White and Brandon Marshall, most of us have had some form of negative interaction with a police officer. It’s usually a stressful situation to be pulled over, no matter the color of your skin…..unless you happen to know the cop personally. Then the stop becomes more relaxed once you both realize you are at least somewhat acquainted.
More face-to-face talks would go a long way toward getting police forces and community members acquainted. Just the small connection of introducing yourself to an officer in your town has to be an improvement over you two remaining strangers. It beats having that initial introduction with blue lights in your yard or in the rear view mirror.