NEW YORK, N.Y. – Athletes and activists including former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick showed their support Wednesday for Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who says he was subjected to racially motivated excessive force by Las Vegas police last month.
Kaepernick and others including soccer player Megan Rapinoe, actor Jesse Williams and Black Lives Matter co-founders Opal Tometti and Patrice Khan-Cullors all signed on to the statement of solidarity, which comes after Bennett said last week he was held at gunpoint and handcuffed by officers who were searching for what they believed was an active shooter at a Las Vegas Strip casino late last month because he was a black man.
The player has been a leader of national anthem protests by players at NFL games, which were started by Kaepernick.
Las Vegas police deny race played a role, and said officers reported that after most other casino patrons had evacuated, Bennett emerged from behind a gambling machine, ran out an exit, and failed to stop for officers chasing him.
In the letter, Bennett’s supporters said, “Michael Bennett has been sitting during the anthem precisely to raise these issues of racist injustice that are now an intimate part of his life. Now we stand with him.”
The letter also criticized the Las Vegas police union, which asked the National Football League to investigate Bennett’s accusations in a letter that said, “While the NFL may condone Bennett’s disrespect for our American flag, and everything it symbolizes, we hope the league will not ignore Bennett’s false accusations against our police officers.”
The NFL said there was no basis for an investigation.
Other signers of the solidarity letter include athletes like former basketball players Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Craig Hodges, and Etan Thomas, tennis great Martina Navratilova, Olympian fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, and academics Cornel West, Imani Perry and Eddie Glaude Jr.