On Sunday, Washington Redskins wide receiver Desean Jackson wore custom cleats designed with police caution tape to protest police violence against African-American men, women and children.
"I felt the need to do it," Jackson said after the game, the Washington Post reports. "I felt like I’ve been silent long enough. It’s a bigger problem out there in the communities, in our society, things like the type of situations [where] people losing their lives, families, like that. Little kids going home and not having their parents no more because of crazy things going on; so as far as the response, whatever the response is, that’s what it is, but I felt that it was time for me to make a stance and speak up on it."
Jackson and four other Redskins raised their fists before last week's game against the New York Giants last week. Jackson released a statement before Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns noting that he was wearing the custom cleats to continue the protest and dialogue.
"Today is the start of my attempts to be part of a solution and start [a] dialogue about the senseless killings of both citizens and police. I have chosen to wear these cleats in pregame today to use my platform as a pro athlete to add to this discussion," he said. "This isn’t meant to be any kind of protest against the good men and women in law enforcement in this country. I just want to express my concern in a peaceful and productive way about issues that are currently impacting our country."
The Post reports that Jackson will likely face a fine from the NFL for the cleats as part of the league’s uniform policy. Jackson added after the game that his goal was to raise awareness and his position isn't anti-police.
“It just felt it was important on my behalf,” Jackson said. “It was something I felt from the heart, and I just want to shed light to the families, to the victims out there. There’s lost loved ones, and it’s not anti-police. It’s not like I don’t like police. It has nothing to do with that," Jackson said, the Post reports.
"The problem is bigger than that, but I guess that’s what it takes to get this much awareness or whatever you wanna call it,” he continued. “But that’s not the problem. The problem is in the inner cities, in the communities, and we need to find out a solution so we can go into the communities and help kids to even [stop] killing on each other.
"It has nothing to do with a message being out there to be said. As a person in this position, you are able to go do things and you wanna shed light. You wanna get things out there. So as far as me, I feel like I go to communities. I do things with the kids, with the youth, and things like that. So, it was just natural," Jackson said. "It is a tough situation we are dealing with in society [and] until we figure out a solution and the organization, we’re doing things on our end to get into the communities and talk to these kids. And if it’s talking to police as well too, to help kids with the police—whatever it is, we need to find a solution."
Before Sunday's game, the Redskins released a statement noting that they support Jackson's demonstration:
We stand in support of both DeSean and the law-enforcement community. We have great respect for law enforcement and the sacrifices they make each and every day to protect and serve our communities. We continue to have open dialogue with our players about issues that are important to them and support their efforts to bring awareness to those issues when done in a responsible manner.
Read more at the Washington Post.