African Americans, Athletes and America: The Michael Bennett Situation

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Flickr / WEBNTV

Daniel Johnson
Sports Editor

Since joining the Seattle Seahawks back in March of 2013, defensive end Michael Bennett has become one of the top linemen in the game, a leader on the Super Bowl Seahawks and a player both respected by his fellow players and feared by coaches who have to gameplan around his talents. Off the field, Bennett has followed his former division rival and sack victim, Colin Kaepernick, by being more vocal about politics.

Along with his brother, Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett, Michael pulled out of a trip to Israel, citing the Israeli government’s plan to “use him as influencer and opinion-former’ who would then be ‘an ambassador of goodwill.” He also replied by saying in the future he plans to visit the country, “but also the West Banks and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives.” Bennett has also followed Kaepernick’s lead in being one of many players choosing not to stand for the National Anthem this upcoming season. And while Kaepernick is currently on the outside looking in when it comes to the NFL, Bennett’s overall skill set, locker room appeal and value has put him on the right side of the athletic/distraction equation. As long as someone can play like a superstar, then teams will “tolerate” and “distractions.”

Following the Conor McGregor v. Floyd Mayweather boxing match, police were called to the report about a shooting in a Las Vegas nightclub. Unless you’re a wannabe John Rambo, this situation has two options: run like the wind or find a place to hide. Bennett chose to run. And here is where the details and facts get interesting. Bennett was detained by officers outside the club and was put in the back of the police car for a few minutes before being released on his own recognizance. According to Bennett, the arrest involved an officer putting a gun to his head and threatening to pull the trigger and a second officer putting his full weight on Bennett’s back, restricting his ability to breath. An investigation has been launched and the two videos have been released. One is a 20 second clip of Bennett being detained by an officer. While the short video does not show a gun being pulled, the video that was collected did not come from the officer’s body camera but a bystander because the officer’s body camera was turned off. The second video seem to strengthen Bennett’s accusation, as it does show an officer holding a weapon to his head.

It is seriously getting more and more exhausting on the soul and the heart to watch situations like this. And watching former tennis player James Blake get manhandled to the ground by an officer in casual attire. And NBA player Thabo Sefolosha having his leg broken two weeks before he was to play in the NBA playoffs by NYPD officers and then having to go through the court system to receive his not guilty plea on resisting arrest, obstructing governmental  administration and disorderly conduct, before suing the department into receiving a $4 million plea deal. And LeBron James having the N word painted on his Los Angeles home days before the NBA Finals. And the Las Vegas Police Union referencing Bennett as unpatriotic for his anthem protest and that Bennett needs to be investigated by the NFL for “false accusations.”

Martellus Bennett said that upon seeing the video of his brother being arrested, he had to leave the team meeting because he started crying. He got emotional during a press conference where he further discussed the situation. Green Bay hosted the Seahawks in week one, and Martellus says he just wants to hug his brother.

The fact is that this episode is still playing out and only Bennett and the arresting officer knows what happened that night. And until more evidence comes out, we can mostly just speculate. The fact that this took place in a crowded Las Vegas area, there is almost certainly dozens of video tapes from all different angles. But as stated previously, it’s just exhausting to read these stories. Almost every month, another story like this comes up and it brings always bring me to a place of worry for my siblings, cousins and other family members who just so happen to be African Americans who are above six feet and two hundred pounds.



Categories: Industry News, Sports

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