Just a couple of short days ago, a grand jury decided that officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson, Missouri police department would not be indicted for the shooting of Michael Brown. For those who make their homes under boulders, Michael Brown was a young African American man who entered into an altercation with Officer Wilson back in August. After a brief struggle, Brown was shot dead and Wilson had suffered some minor injuries.
The legal proceedings were essentially seeking to determine whether the shooting had been carried out in accordance with regulation on the part of Officer Wilson. While the grand jury made their decision, there are numerous controversies regarding the case, including the possibility of those jurors being misled and, of course, scrutiny of the entire city itself given an ongoing history of race relations that can only be called 'difficult' on the nicest of days.
The tragic events of early August renewed the already heated debates about race relations and use of force by police. In the wake of the decision, riots broke out as many had predicted. Stores were burned, looting occurred, and of course, as with any riot, many were arrested. The city is still locked in a tense situation, and that does not seem to be changing any time soon. As seems to be a trend every time anything happens anywhere, celebrities and athletes took to social media to add their two cents. It’s always impressive to see how many world class athletes are also experts in race relations and specialists in law enforcement policies.
All sarcasm aside, among athlete opinions, some voiced their sadness, others outrage, some called for peace and unsurprisingly, one football player tried to make it about himself. In any event, whether one believes it was a lawful shooting or a complete travesty, a young man died, a town is in flames, and Twitter is buzzing with passionate opinions. Without further ado, here are the top 15 athlete responses to the decision in Ferguson. While I don't intend to take light of the situation in Ferguson, please forgive some mocking of some of the athletes who chose to comment. Just because someone is famous, doesn't mean society needs to be bludgeoned with their opinions and emotions.
15 Swin Cash
"Someone PLEASE explain to me why I'm looking at an officer with a shot gun drawn in Ferguson what in the ...#icannot"
The multiple Olympian gold medalist, and one of the WNBA's most decorated veterans, commented this in response to the heavily militarized police presence in the area after the decision. With a riot predicted, it is obvious why such a heavy handed police contingent showed up, but that certainly doesn't mean people have to be happy about it. It's not hard to imagine heavily armed cops seeming like a slap in the face when a trigger happy cop seems to have caused the situation (NOT our opinion, but an opinion held by some).
14 Serena Williams
"Wow. Just wow. Shameful. What will it take???"
The best female tennis player of all time weighed in. Her brief response to the decision indicates a sense of shock and outraged disappointment. Also in there is a sense of hopelessness. "What will it take" is a troubling thought, as many are of the belief that this is definitely not the last time a young black man will be shot with no justice against the shooter.
13 Steve Nash
"Disgusted by decision in furguson. Racism is learned. Accepted is systematic suffocation of education and opportunity. What are we saying?"
The forty year old Canuck ball player offered up an eloquent tweet. "Racism is learned" is a powerful statement in and of itself, but describing it as "suffocation of education and opportunity" is an interesting claim as well. Suppressing education and opportunity are two undeniable realities of systemic racism.
He should just be sure to spell the name of the city correctly next time...
12 Jamal Crawford
“In life we have to remember what’s really important, thoughts and prayers with Ferguson …”
Again, not everyone is showing their outrage in response to the decision not to prosecute Officer Wilson. The Clippers' sixth man sent off his best wishes to the city. Teammate Matt Barnes (next on the list) also commented in on the situation but offered a much more impassioned view.
11 Matt Barnes
"So it's okay to kill people..........? As long as the person being killed is of color & the person behind the trigger has a badge!!! Sad day not only for mike browns friends & family but a BAD day for our nation! Not saying all cops are bad, BUT their are a lot of them out there that abuse their authority.... #RIPMikeBrown #WillThereEverBePeace #StopTheViolence"
This is sadly a familiar sentiment that has been a reality for many African-American youth for years. Back in 1998, Tupac Shakur rapped "Cops give a damn about a *****, pull the trigger, kill a ****** he's a hero." While there are still people saying that Darren Wilson acted within his authority and was just protecting himself from someone who had assaulted him, this is another instance of a young, unarmed black man being gunned down by a man of the law.
10 Golden Tate
"It's about to go down in
#Ferguson regardless of the decision. Phew, hope everyone is safe!"
Like a harbinger of bad tidings crossed with Captain Obvious, the Detroit Lions' wide receiver indicated that the town of Ferguson would see a rough few days whether the 28 year old officer was to stand trial or not. He makes a decent point, no matter what happens, court decisions very rarely please everyone.
9 Kobe Bryant
“Until the legal system, we have a serious legal system conversation, it’s going to keep on happening.”
“What’s justifiable? What calls for legal action and what qualifies as the threshold in being able to use deadly force in that situation?”
Given his history, maybe Kobe Bryant shouldn't be griping too much about the system, but that's none of my business. He does make some comments, indicative of views shared by many. It is not an anomaly to hear accusations of police officers misusing their authority.
8 Ian Cole
"In all seriousness, everyone stay safe and peaceful tonight #STLTogether"
The St. Louis Blues' defenseman, who plays fairly close to Ferguson, tweeted this, hoping that a riot wouldn't happen. People were not safe and there was little peace. Unfortunately, while rioting rarely leads to any progress, simply telling people not to flip cars and start fires doesn't always achieve the desired outcome.
7 Baron Davis
"Once again sending my love and prayers to the Brown family and people in Ferguson..."
The former Knick (now free agent) is another example of an athlete who seems genuinely upset at the events. Plenty of people have forgotten the Brown family. They lost one of their own, and their own pleas for peace fell on ears that were unwilling and too enraged to hear.
6 Reggie Bush
“The Palestinian People know what mean to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity. #Ferguson #Justice.”
“No matter who you are, what color skin you have, where you live, we are all in this together! This isn't a Ferguson problem it's a Global Problem! We need change NOW! What happened to humanity? #JusticeForMikeBrown,”
The Detroit Lions' running back commented on a picture on Instagram of a Palestinian man holding a sign with the message above. Bush's own commentary is the second quote. He definitely meant well, but many people were less than pleased. He later claimed to have not intended to draw similarities between the shooting and the ongoing situation in Palestine.
5 Jonathan Martin
"Man. I'm not sure what to feel... Anger, sadness, hopelessness, sure... but most of all disappointment... smh #RIPMikeBrown"
The victim of the 2013 Miami Dolphins' "bullying" controversy offered his thoughts. All of the above emotions are commonly held right now, but I have to wonder whether how many people are actually surprised.
4 Adrian Peterson
"The GRAND JURY DECIDED NOT TO INDICT ME TOO! But that changed a week LATER! MAYBE,BUT NOT LIKELY N THIS CASE #PUTyourTrustNGODnotINtheWORLD!"
Welcome to "facepalm central," folks. Remember when I said one athlete would awkwardly try to make it all about himself? Adrian Peterson needs to be kept away from Twitter and should stop beating his Caps-lock key, then maybe his tweets would be more readable.
Trust in God until the cows come home, but you still beat your kid and people don't like that.
3 Magic Johnson
"I am very disappointed with decision in the Mike Brown case in Ferguson, MO."
"We must work together to stop the unnecessary loss of young men of color. Justice was not served in Ferguson."
As is usually his way, Magic summed up his displeasure in simple, to-the-point words. Unfortunately, "work together to stop the unnecessary loss of young en of color" sounds like a sentiment that is all too familiar for many in the United States.
2 LeBron James
“As a society how do we do better and stop things like this happening time after time!! I’m so sorry to these families. Violence is not the answer people. Retaliation isn’t the solution as well. #PrayersUpToTheFamilies #WeHaveToDoBetter”
Whether you love or hate him on and off the court, LeBron James nailed it with his post the other day. He posted a cartoon of two figures walking together, with arms around each others' shoulders, into a white light. On the shirt of one reads "Trayvon Martin" and on the other "Mike Brown." A simple drawing, but very powerful nonetheless.
While many applauded such cartoons, others still insist that Martin and Brown caused their own demise. James' own comments call for a full social effort to peacefully resolve the issues that cause such killings.
1 Benjamin Watson
The New Orleans Saints' tight end has without any shadow of a doubt, produced a sharp, moving and painful account of his own responses to the decision. The description of his range of emotions is thought-provoking but also attributes social problems to deep-seated moral problems from a Christian perspective. He argues that racism is "not a skin problem but a sin problem."
His response to the decision in Ferguson has gone viral but it may be lost on those who are not of the Christian persuasion.