Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson is the latest NFL player to join protests led by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the wake of police shootings of a series of black men.
In opposition of “the senseless killings of both citizens and police,” Jackson announced he will wear cleats with caution tape painted across them prior to Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir) October 1, 2016
— dckerNBC4 (@dckerNBC4) October 2, 2016
Both Jackson and the Redskins issued statements on his decision to sport the cleats in pregame warmups – a move that avoids a violation of the NFL’s uniform policy and subsequent punishment.
Statements from DeSean Jackson and the Washington Redskins. pic.twitter.com/JZ4j179SSN
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) October 2, 2016
“Today is the start of my attempts to be part of a solution and start dialogue about the senseless killings of both citizens and police,” said Jackson. “I have chosen to wear these cleats in pregame today to use my platform as a pro athlete to add to this discussion. 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 Redskins pledged support for both Jackson’s protest and the law enforcement community.
“I’ve seen enough yellow caution tape, and it’s time for a stand and a change in our community and society,” Jackson added to TMZ Sports, which reported the cleats were designed by artist Marcus Rivero. “Senseless killings have been ongoing for awhile, and police brutality in our black community … and as a young black leader with a stage and platform I’m starting awareness to help prevent these killings, and hopefully get justice to these cops who have taken lives of innocent human beings.”
Showing solidarity with the movement Kaepernick started, Jackson was one of four Redskins players to raise his fist during the National Anthem prior to last weekend’s game against the New York Giants.
It will be interesting to see the reaction to Jackson’s cleats. Surely, there will be critics who suggest cleats cannot add to a discussion, and the fact he plays for a team whose nickname has long been called into question over racism makes the conversation all that much more complicated. But Jackson’s cleats are sure to keep the topic in headlines, which helps keep the dialogue open.