DeSean Jackson took his protest on police brutality one step further on Sunday. The Washington Redskins wide receiver wore custom cleats with a caution tape design during Sunday’s 31-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns to continue the national conversation about unarmed African Americans dying at the hands of police.
Closer pic of DJax cleats with caution tape painted on. pic.twitter.com/HJDfTqpfor
— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) October 2, 2016
“I felt the need to do it,” Jackson said after the game. “I felt like I’ve been silent long enough. It’s a bigger problem out there in the communities, in our society, things like the type of situations[where] people losing their lives, families like that. Little kids going home and not having their parents no more because of crazy things going on; so as far as the response, whatever the response is, that’s what it is, but I felt that it was time for me to make a stance and speak up on it.
Jackson was among four Redskins’ players who rose their fists during the national anthem before the game against the New York Giants last week, and he continued his protest with his on-field uniform. He will likely face a fine from the NFL for the cleats as part of the league’s uniform policy.
It was initially reported by TMZ on Saturday that Jackson would wear the cleats, and he released a statement before the game noting, “Today is the start of my attempts to be part of a solution and start [a] dialogue about the senseless killings of both citizens and police. I have chosen to wear these cleats in pregame today to use my platform as a pro athlete to add to this discussion. This isn’t meant to be any kind of protest against the good men and women in law enforcement in this country. I just want to express my concern in a peaceful and productive way about issues that are currently impacting our country.”
Jackson has been the most vocal player on the team about the issue, which was brought to the forefront in August when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat down or took a knee during the national anthem in the first three preseason games to take a civil rights stand. Jackson clarified that his stance isn’t one that carries an anti-police message.
“It just felt it was important on my behalf,” Jackson said. “It was something I felt from the heart, and I just want to shed light to the families, to the victims out there. There’s lost loved ones, and it’s not anti-police. It’s not like I don’t like police. It has nothing to do with that. The problem is bigger than that, but I guess that’s what it takes to get this much awareness or whatever you wanna call it. But that’s not the problem The problem is in the inner cities, in the communities and we need to find out a solution so we can go into the communities and help kids to even [stop] killing on each other.
“It has nothing to do with a message being out there to be said. As a person in this position, you are able to go do things and you wanna shed light. You wanna get things out there. So as far as me, I feel like I go to communities. I do things with the kids, with the youth, and things like that. So, it was just natural. It is a tough situation we are dealing with in society [and] until we figure out a solution and the organization, we’re doing things on our end to get into the communities and talk to these kids. And if it’s talking to police as well too to help kids with the police — whatever it is, we need to find a solution.”
The Redskins also released a statement before the game supporting Jackson’s actions.
“We stand in support of both DeSean and the law enforcement community. We have great respect for law enforcement and the sacrifices they make each and every day to protect and serve our communities. We continue to have open dialogue with our players about issues that are important to them and support their efforts to bring awareness to those issues when done in a responsible manner.”
While Jackson broke his silence over the last two games, the Long Beach, Calif. native said the issue has been constantly on his mind with the repeated accounts of African Americans that have died not just by police but also because of gang-related issues in the community he grew up in.
“You can make a stance, you can try and do something,” Jackson said. “You can get a change or can’t get a change. Nothing is promised in this world, but as far as me, I felt like I was silenced enough. It hurts when you look up and you keep seeing hashtags of young African [American] men losing their lives to senseless things. As far as me, I’m trying to start a movement and get guys behind it, teammates and really have the organization behind me as well support it. Like I said, going to these communities, going into the inner-cities and just talking to these kids and really just trying to change the mindset.
“It’s not just police killings, it’s killings within the youth. Kids killing each other. It’s like it’s enough. You see enough yellow tape. You see enough caution tape out there that’s blocked off the streets. My community, I grew up seeing that. It’s like when will it be a time where enough is enough and you have a change. Me being able to stand up and say this is what I think needs to happen…not only just saying this is what I think needs to happen but being able to start a movement and moving forward being able to have people involved in it, I think is a powerful movement.”
— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) October 1, 2016
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