Police Stopped Abuse After Realizing Victim Wasn't Mere Black Man -- But Black Football Star

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Cops stopped roughing up Bennett when they realized he wasn't just a Black man--he was actually a valuable Black man, a football star. Photo: ABC TV screen shot.

Seattle Seahawks football star Michael Bennett has announced his intention to sue Las Vegas Police for the racist assault he endured by their officers during the early morning hours of August 27—after the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor.Mr. Bennett is doing the right thing by using his superstar profile to expose the evil of racist policing.

Here again, we see police refusing to take responsibility for the inexcusable conduct of one of their officers.On Wednesday, Bennett and his lawyer, John Burris, made clear their intention to sue the Las Vegas Metro Police Department for the brutal actions Bennett faced at the hands of one of their officers. 

"Unless something changes drastically that we don't know of, we're gonna file a lawsuit," said Burris.

Bennett maintains he was racially-profiled by two officers who ordered him to the ground, during the commotion about whether shots had been fired inside a Vegas hotel, after the boxing match. Bennett said one of the officers pulled a gun on him and threatened to “blow [his] fucking head off.”

According to Bennett, it was only after he was recognized as a football player that the abuse against him stopped. "I went from being a Black man to a football player," said Bennett.

This week, a number of academics and athletes signed a letter pledging solidarity with Bennett.

The letter reads “We, the undersigned, stand with Michael Bennett, a professional football player with the Seattle Seahawks, philanthropist and activist, following an incident of police brutality in Las Vegas. On the morning of August 27th, a reported shooting on the Vegas strip led to chaos. Michael Bennett ran for cover, as did hundreds of others. Instead of being assisted, video and photographic evidence shows that Las Vegas police targeted Bennett, put him on the ground in handcuffs while the primary officer took out a weapon and placed it near the back of his head.

According to Bennett, the officer said that if Bennett moved, he would “blow [his] fucking head off.”

"Bennett was then put in a police car, and after a period of time let go without charges. We condemn this act of racial profiling and excessive force perpetrated by the Vegas police against Mr. Bennett.”

Some of those who signed the letter include: Colin Kaepernick, Angela Davis, Opal Tometi, Cornel West, Harry Edwards, John Carlos, Martina Navratilova, Melissa Harriss-Perry, Craig Hodges, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Naomi Klein, Arundathi Roy, Kevin Powell, Etan Thomas, Jesse Williams, Eric Reid, Harry Edwards, Macklemore, Bree Newsome and Dave Zirin.

Assuming this lawsuit goes forward, it will be interesting to see the machinations which will be used to exonerate these cops from culpability.

Indeed, city governments are often more willing to give money to quell police brutality cases—than to vigorously prosecute police who violate the rights of Blacks people. While police apologists like to tell us about the supposedly only “few bad apples,” they never seem to have any stomach for prosecuting said “bad apples.”

The gall of these Vegas cops, and their lying police union, is an example of just how unaccountable these folks feel they are when have engaged in the racist abuse of Black people. These unions have zero credibility. They always reflexively, regardless of the evidence, protect any officer charged with brutalized Black people. These aid-and-abet any outrage.

Think about this: have you ever seen any police union denounce an officer for their violent or murderous actions? Even in the most obvious cases of murder, they won’t denounce the most contemptible conduct of cops. Did we hear them denounce Michael Slager, who murdered Walter Scott? What about Jason Van Dyke, who killed Laquan McDonald? In fact, they have protected Van Dyke and have been helping him to get side jobs. Former Deputy Chief David Naughton claimed Van Dyke did not act improperly—when he shot McDonald, who was walking away from police.

Now, according to Kevin McMahill, the Undersheriff of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, race had nothing to do with Bennett being treated in the manner he was.

"I can tell you as I stand here today, I see no evidence of that," McMahill said. "I see no evidence that race played any role in this incident." McMahill pointed out that two Hispanic officers were present during the takedown of Bennett. Apparently, we’re supposed to accept the notion that because these officers were present racism can’t be viewed as a factor.

American history tells us that, during Slavery, there were people know as Slave-drivers. Since these people were Black men, are we to then say Slavery wasn’t an evil institution?

Civil Rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer outlined how she was once beaten by Black men who were ordered to do so by the police—with the understanding that these men would face serious consequences if they refused. If we follow the reasoning of these folks, the fact that Black men beat Ms. Hamer would indicate what? That she deserved to be beaten because it was done by Black men?

The sad truth is: many Black and Latino police officers—of course, not all—suffer from self-hate, and also represent a sellout element, who have no problem oppressing Black and Latino people for their own self-promotion. Too many of these folk are fighting to gain acceptance into White America as good honorable Negroes. Indeed, in some instances, they can be worse brutalizers than their White masters.

The police union also attempted to influence the NFL to investigate Bennet to deflect from the conduct of their cops. In a letter they sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, among the absurdities they spewed was this “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.”

For one thing, someone should tell these “law enforcement” officers that Bennett’s actions during the National Anthem is protected by the First Amendment. Their attempt here is to smear the victim they violated. Part of the modus operandi of police is to find, or create, dirt on those they have wronged. This is a feature of how they criminalize Black people.

About a year ago, Colin Kaepernick decided to sit during the singing of the National Anthem to protest police prejudice and brutality against African-Americans. He was within his First Amendment Rights in doing so. But a significant segment of White America made it clear they hate Kaepernick for doing so as the hate messages confirm.

Many White Americans are silent about the brutal treatment Bennett faced—which is what Kaepernick was protesting. Neither were such people outraged by the Nazis and other White supremacists who showed up in Charlottesville, Virginia armed with guns and other weapons to spew their hate.

Police brutality against Black Americans, or, White Supremacists seeking to engage in violence don't bother some White Americans more than Kaepernick's protest actions.

If the Las Vegas Police had any integrity they would apologize to Michael Bennett for the outrageous conduct of their officers in this incident. But they won’t. Being a policeman means you never have to say sorry for violating the rights of Black people.

Black Americans must face the fact that we’re not dealing with a problem of a “few bad apples,” or, a lack of “training.”

Police have been trained to do just what they do to us: brutalize and kill then live with the consequences, even if the victim was completely innocent. There are no adverse consequences from the judicial system. Ask the killers of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garners and many others.

If we continue to legitimize American police, who are rooted in racism and white supremacy, by saying that most of the officers are “good,” while we ignore the racist culture of the police institutional itself, then we will continue to be manhandled and murdered. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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