The Dallas Examiner
“I accept this award not for myself but on behalf of the people, because it were not for my love of the people, I would not have protested, and if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today,” said Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, after receiving the Muhammed Ali Legacy Award last week at Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year Awards.
Like Ali, Kaepernick has risked his sports career to shine a light on police brutality, White supremacy and systematic racism issues plaguing African Americans in an unapologetic, straightforward fashion.
Since he began kneeling during the National Anthem in 2016 – kicking off the peaceful, silent Take A Knee campaign – the former star player has encountered excessive backlash and has even been blackballed by several NFL teams. However, the love has outweighed the hate as millions of people, including some NFL players, have stood by his side and celebrated Kaepernick’s courageous acts.
In the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, about 300 people peacefully protested outside the AT&T stadium prior to the Dallas Cowboys/Philadelphia Eagles game, Nov. 19, to propel Kaepernick’s mission and bring awareness to the issues within Dallas’ Black neighborhoods.
“We are here because we refuse to fall for the okey-doke of pseudo-patriotism manipulating the narrative in order to further [their] agenda, and we’re not going to fall for [their] fake news and alternative facts,” said Frederick Haynes, senior pastor at Friendship-West Baptist Church.
Dressed in all black, members of the local community participated in a rally, organized by Friendship-West, in a fight for criminal justice reform and to call out several NFL team owners who neglected fatal police-involved shootings in their areas, such as New York Giants owner John Mara in regards to Eric Garner, Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown in regards to John Crawford, and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam in regards to Tamir Rice.
“We’re calling out the owner of the New Orleans Saints because Alton Sterling died in your backyard,” Haynes said passionately to the protestors. “We’re calling out the owner of the Minnesota Vikings because Philando Castle did everything right and still died in your backyard.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was also a major topic of discussion for his lack of involvement in several police brutality cases in the area such as the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Jordan Edwards in Balch Springs and the 2016 shooting of Christian Taylor in Arlington, which is where Jones currently resides.
“This is happening in his front yard. When we talked to his staff, they didn’t know anything about it,” said Alisa Simmons, Arlington NAACP president.
Aside from the team owners problem, the demonstration also defended football players who cannot participate due to the intense climate and possibility of being blackballed.
“We’re going to take a knee for those who can’t because they are being dictated like slaves on a plantation,” Haynes declared.
Several local groups, including the Coalition of Justice, Muhammad Mosque No. 48 and Texas Organizing Project, joined the protest along with Basketball Wives executive producer and star Shaunie O’Neal and former NFL player Jason Allen as they knelt and raised their fists outside the stadium during the anthem.
The Kaepernick-inspired testament was not only a revolutionary moment but a call to action through body language for complete systematic change.
Brianna Brown, TOP deputy director, spoke to the massive crowd prior to the rally urging local citizens to vote and demand that the local district attorney becomes more involved in these issues and the fight to end the cash bail system, death penalty and mass incarceration of minority youth and those who suffer from mental illness and drug addiction.
“We want systematic reform, and we demand that our district attorney’s office do everything they can to make sure that a systematic reform is in place,” she said.
The Dallas primary election will be held March 6, 2018, for county commissioner, the person who passes local laws and hires county employees; district attorney, who investigates alleged crimes, files charges and brings evidence to the Grand Jury; district clerk, county clerk and county treasurer.
“If you go home and stay silent on this issue, the next person that dies at the hands of law enforcement that don’t get accountability blood is on you,” said Dominique Alexander, local activist, alongside Dee Crane, mother of Tarrant police shooting victim Tavis Crane.