Terence Crutcher’s Death Was The Last Straw For Russell Westbrook

“A terrorist in New Jersey bombs New York has a shoot out with cops and gets grazed with a bullet. And safely arrested. A man with car trouble in Tulsa gets TAZED then shot. And then they stand there. Don’t offer him aid, comfort, nothing. No gun. No criminal activity. And I’ve heard people say “he should have complied”. As if that has ANYTHING TO DO WITH KILLING AN UNARMED MAN. Stop making excuses. His color got him killed. If that was a well dressed non-black female, do you think the helicopter pilot would have said “she looks like a bad person” in the same manner they said Terrance Crutcher “looks like a bad person”? Of course not. His color was the only thing that made him bad. From 500 feet in the air. I’m tired man. And I’m scared. Cuz I’m big and my skin is brown. Lord don’t let my car break down, don’t let me be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

A little more than a few words from Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook, voicing his frustration towards the recent shootings of innocent black men by officers of the law, more specifically the Terence Crutcher situation in Tulsa, OK.

Colin Kaepernick’s stance has been felt throughout the country and more so within the sports community. Players, and in some cases entire teams have stood up in protest of the injustices, in relation to people of color, homosexuality, religion and so forth.

Russell Westbrook, an outspoken NBA player spoke out as if the situation in Tulsa was his final straw. Standing at a legitimate 6-foot-4, 200-pounds, the stereotype of a big black man more than likely applies to him. If you saw his shadow, not knowing who he was, he’d fit that description and who’s to say he wouldn’t also be considered a “bad man,” like Crutcher was from hundreds of feet in the air where you can’t see any features, can’t hear any of his words, mannerisms, nothing?

This latest situation is more frustrating because of the clear video evidence that Crutcher, indeed didn’t do anything wrong. The officers weren’t called because he did anything, they were called because his car happened to be stalled in the street, obstructing traffic. Hearing and seeing people’s excuses for the Tulsa Police Department’s actions is proof of America’s bias, and it honestly gives Kaepernick’s argument more validity. Going as far as saying that the PCP allegedly found in Crutcher’s vehicle was reason enough for officer Betty Shelby to shoot him dead, or that he didn’t follow all the officer’s commands. Last time I checked, as long as you don’t pose a threat, you shouldn’t be killed. The police department’s fabrication of the story furthermore decreased their credibility after they said he was reaching through his window. A window Crutcher’s lawyer later proved was closed shut.

All this brings me back to Russell. Knowing the type of guy he is now, controversial, emotional, and determined; this is an opportunity for him to really take a stand. Him speaking out may actually hold more weight than Kaepernick in the eyes of the average Oklahoman because let’s be honest, he’s a more relevant athlete right now, and Oklahoman’s absolutely love him, especially after he pledged his loyalty to Oklahoma City for at least two more years, here recently. Although his message will essentially be the same as Kaepernick’s, possibly even kneeling during the national anthem, watch fans react differently just because it’s Russell Westbrook.

These athletes are going out on a limb, using their major platform to speak out against this drama in America. I believe this is something that players will continue doing until America’s mindset changes when it comes to these issues.

It’s a problem.

The sooner you realize that and stop trying to hold onto this old American mindset, stemming from slavery that blacks aren’t equal to the average American, the sooner these athletes will stop “disrespecting the country.”

About the author

Founder & Editor-in-Chief. National Association of Black Journalists. University of Central Oklahoma.


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