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The New York Jets reached out to radical pro-police organization Blue Lives Matter NYC on Tuesday inquiring about a partnership.
What they got in response was an angry email disparaging the concerns of minority Americans who suffer unjust violence at the hands of police, The New York Post reports.
Blue Lives Matter founder Joe Imperatrice shared with The Post an email exchange he had with Jets partnership manager Anthony Bulak in which he blasted NFL players for not respecting police.
Blue Lives Matter founder: NFL players issues are made up
Imperatrice’s response, via emails shared with The Post:
“Although I’d love to work with an NFL team right now I feel it is not the right time. All over the United States players feel entitled to disrespect our first responders, our military members both past and present and our flag. These players make more money in a season than some people make in a lifetime and their ‘Issues’ are made up, exaggerated, and more times than not false.”
Imperatrice’s response echoes rhetoric at the center of the ongoing NFL controversy critical of players who have chosen to kneel or protest social justice issues during the national anthem.
Rather than address their concerns, Imperatrice attacked the players as anti-military while suggesting that because they get paid a lot, their issues don’t matter to begin with.
Imperatrice went on to color protesting players as ignorant.
“Once again I do appreciate the offer but revenue we have could better be spent on the families of officers killed in the line of duty protecting the ignorance of these individuals rather than contributing to their paycheck.”
Bulak responded to Imperatrice’s concerns citing the Jets’ history of supporting first responders and not having players involved in anthem protests, according to The Post. The Jets have not said why they decided to reach out to Blue Lives Matter in the first place.
“I appreciate you sharing your opinion and although I can’t comment too much on it what I will say is the Jets have never had a player protest our anthem. The Jets have always been supportive of our police, firefighters, EMTs, etc. and will continue to do so,” Bulak wrote, including a flyer for the team’s First Responders Night.”
Imperatrice points to Jets’ signing of Isaiah Crowell
Bulak’s response prompted Imperatrice to point out that the Jets signed running back Isaiah Crowell, who posted a graphic Instagram illustration of a police officer having his throat slit open by a hooded man when he was with the Cleveland Browns in 2016.
“If I am correct the JETS may have signed an individual who depicted a Grim Reaper slicing the throat of a police officer,” Imperatrice wrote, including a photo of the controversial 2016 social media post.
Imperatrice takes frequent controversial stances in media appearances
Imperatrice makes frequent media appearances on behalf of Blue Lives Matter. In July, he appeared on a Fox News segment blaming media for a “war on cops.”
“Just like Donald Trump gets beat up every day, so does law enforcement,” Imperatrice said.
He also appeared in a 2017 Fox News segment defending the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” policy that gives officers authority to detain and search pedestrians using their judgment of “reasonable suspicion” without any evidence that a person has committed a crime. In 2012, 84 percent of the people stopped and frisked in New York were black or hispanic while 10 percent were white.
A U.S. District Court judge ruled in 2013 that specific “stop and frisk” violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s promise of equal protection because of the racial disparity seen in the program. In 2017, the NYPD settled a lawsuit agreeing to curb “stop-and-frisk” tactics around private residences.
“Stop and frisk is a great tool when done properly,” Imperatrice told Fox News.
Police groups respond with NFL protests back in the spotlight
As player protests are back in the spotlight with the start of NFL preseason, Imperatrice’s is not the first example of police making statements on the issue.
Last week, South Florida police unions called for a boycott of Miami Dolphins games after Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson protested during the anthem before their preseason opener.
Randy Moss received hate mail after he used the platform of the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony to raise awareness of 10 black people who were unjustly killed by police or died after being taken into custody.
Moss told The Undefeated that he also had a constructive dialogue with a police officer who had initially reached out to him in disagreement of his message.
“The point is that we’re all people,” Moss told the Undefeated. “People make mistakes. But you shouldn’t lose your life for a lot of the reasons that people have been. Now, the police officer I was [messaging with] agreed with me that some of those people should still be here. He agreed that they shouldn’t have lost their lives. That kind of made me feel good. We communicated about it and agreed on something. What I did, I didn’t mean it disrespectfully toward police. I didn’t call out any police officer or police department. I know police have tough jobs.”
Dialogue critical to finding answers to violent problems
As often happens in these kinds of stories, the issue here has shifted from the social justice concerns at hand to debate over the method of the player protests. Moss’ anecdote is an example that constructive dialogue can actually occur when people have reasoned conversations.
Of course police departments and good police officers absolutely deserve the support of their communities.
But when police unions and groups like Blue Lives Matter refuse to address that there are bad cops who commit unjustified acts of violence, everybody is done a disservice.
It’s not wrong to protest in the face of unjust violence. It’s not wrong to ask to feel safe. It’s not wrong to use a public platform like the playing of the national anthem to raise awareness of those concerns.
It is wrong to ignore those concerns and turn up the volume in the the opposite direction.
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