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Anthems and Anger: Why Brandon Marshall is Right

During last week’s season-opening game against the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall knelt during the national anthem to protest racial oppression and police brutality. This week, Bronco management set up a meeting between Marshall and Denver chief of police Robert White, who is black. White says that at the meeting he offered Marshall a chance to ride along with police and observe “shoot, don’t shoot” training which, according to the chief, teaches officers to make split-second decisions. In other words, they know they will be shooting more people in the future, otherwise why the “training”?

A little context; just a few of many fatal incidents involving the Denver police: Fifteen-year-old Paul Childs was shot and killed as he stood in his doorway by officer James Turney (the city of Denver paid a $1.3 million settlement to the victim’s family). It was $4 million to the family of Emily Rae Rice, who died when she was taken to jail after a car crash and was refused medical treatment. Jason T. Gomez was shot and killed by officer Timothy Campbell, who said Gomez had a gun. It turned out to be a lighter.

In his last state of the city speech, former Denver mayor John Hickenlooper might have focused on the fact that 29% of Denver’s children live in poverty, but instead he said fighting crime was the city’s top priority. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, heaped praise upon the police and spent the first ten paragraphs of his speech exulting in plans to ramp up police power in the Mile High City.

Brandon Marshall is right, the Denver police are wrong. Until the real issues are addressed, there is nothing to talk about.

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Lee Ballinger, CounterPunch’s music columnist, is co-editor of Rock and Rap Confidential author of the forthcoming book Love and War: My First Thirty Years of Writing, interviewed Honkala for CounterPunch. RRRC is now available for free by emailing Ballinger at: rockrap@aol.com.

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