Michael Bennett Receives ‘Statement of Solidarity’ From Cross Section of Dignitaries

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett recently found himself in the midst of mayhem when he was racially profiled in Las Vegas after gunshots went off nearby following the Mayweather-McGregor fight. Disturbing photos indicate that Bennett was targeted and pinned to the ground by Las Vegas police, while an officer pointed a gun at his neck.

Only after Bennett came forward with his story over a week later and in the wake of widespread horror, Las Vegas asked the NFL to investigate Bennett for “false allegations.” The NFL declined.

In response to this stunning event, a group of dignitaries from myriad fields have joined together to support Bennett. The impressive list rages from NFL names like Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid and Chris Borland to Seattle artist Macklemore to Harvard professor Cornel West and beyond.

Read their “Statement of Solidarity,” followed by the entire list of luminaries who have proudly put their name behind supporting Bennett..

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.

This story is awful enough. The response by the Las Vegas police union has been even worse. They have issued a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling for Bennett to be investigated for “obvious false allegations against our officers.” Instead of refuting these allegations, the police union made reference to Bennett’s protests of the national anthem, writing, “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.” They are, in effect, using Bennett’s political protest as a pretext to investigate him.

Since Bennett publicized his encounter with the LVMPD, a spokesperson for the police has confirmed that it is conducting an investigation of Bennett to determine, “Whether Mr. Bennett was involved in the altercation at the hotel casino prior to his detention on Las Vegas Boulevard.” This is clearly an act of retaliation against Bennett for speaking out against police brutality. It is also a gesture of intimidation against anyone else who would dare challenge the right of the Las Vegas police department to act with impunity. This is unacceptable.

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.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf – Nine year NBA veteran, Civil Rights activist

Chris Borland – Former NFL player

John Carlos – 1968 Olympian, author The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed The World

Angela Davis – Author, Freedom is a Constant Struggle

Harry Edwards – Consultant: SF 49ERS, Prof. Emeritus UC Berkeley

Noura Erakat –  human rights attorney & assistant professor, George Mason University

Eddie Glaude, Jr. – Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton, Author Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul,

Melissa Harris-Perry – Author Sister Citizen; director the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University

Craig Hodges – Ten year NBA veteran; author Long Shot

Colin Kaepernick – Co-founder, Know Your Rights Camp

Patrisse Khan-Cullors – Co-founder Black Lives Matter

Naomi Klein – Author No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need

Macklemore – Seattle based, Grammy award winning artist

Dave Meggyesy – Former NFL player, author Out of Their League

Ibtihaj Muhammad -Member of United States fencing team

Martina Navratilova – Tennis icon

Bree Newsome – Artist and Civil Rights Activist

Imani Perry – Professor, African American Studies, Princeton; Author, More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States 

Kevin Powell – Lecturer, author, Who’s Gonna Take The Weight

Megan Rapinoe – Seattle Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League

Eric Reid – Cornerback, San Francisco 49ers

Arundhati Roy – Booker Prize winning author, The God of Small Things

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor – Assistant professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University, and the author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.

Michael Skolnik – Co-founder, The Soze Agency

Breanna Stewart – WNBA All Star, Seattle Storm

Etan Thomas – Ten year NBA veteran, author We Matter: Athletes and Activism

Opal Tometi – Co-founder, Black Lives Matter

Heather Ann Thompson – Professor of History. Department of Afro-American and African Studies;Pulitzer prize winning author, Blood in the Water The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

Cornel West –Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University.

Dave Zirin – Sports Editor, The Nation Magazine