Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin has been about as polite about protesting police brutality as someone can be. He chose not to kneel or sit during the national anthem but to lock arms with teammates. He made clear that not all police officers are bad people. His idea of change wasn’t rebellion but a simple review of training procedures.
None of which has prevented Baldwin from receiving death threats. Here’s what the receiver told 60 Minutes Sports in an interview that will air Tuesday on Showtime (via ESPN):
“I had a few,” Baldwin said, according to a transcript of the interview that was released Friday. “A couple of people told me to watch my back.”
Baldwin, whose father is a police officer, said during the interview that the threats will not stop him from speaking up.
“If something was to happen to me, I think that would just further prove my point that there are issues in our culture, in our society that need to be changed,” he said.
This should come as a lesson to anyone who says Colin Kaepernick’s message would resonate if he just picked a different way of expressing it. Baldwin pretty much followed the “inoffensive protester” handbook to a tee, but there are still people out there who want to kill him.
These are the comments that sparked some people to threaten Baldwin’s life:
“This is not an isolated incident,” said Baldwin, who is African-American and the son of a police officer. “This is not an isolated conversation. This is not isolated just to some specific parts of our country. We see that now. And the advancement of technology has proven that, from the video of Rodney King in 1991 to the numerous incidents that we now have visual evidence of today.
“Now this is not an indictment of our law enforcement agencies. I just want that to be clear. We know that there’s a select few — a very minute few — of law enforcement who are not abiding by those laws and policies. However, we also know that there are laws and policies that are in place that are not correcting the issue that we have in our society right now.
“So as an American, a black male in this country, I’m suggesting, calling — I’m demanding that all 50 state attorney generals [sic] call for a review of their policies and training policies for police and law enforcement to eliminate militaristic cultures while putting a higher emphasis on de-escalation tactics and crisis management measures.”
If you wear socks that portray police as pigs, people want to kill you. If you gently suggest some bad police officers would benefit from some extra training, people want to kill you. As American history clearly demonstrates, if you work toward the advancement of black, people want to kill you.
The good news is not everyone had a violent reaction to Baldwin’s thoughts.
.@DougBaldwinJr Watched your press conference today with interest. I’ll be reaching out soon to see if you'd like to sit down and chat. -BF
— WA Attorney General (@AGOWA) September 22, 2016
It takes a lot of courage to open death threats in the mail and keep doing what you’re doing. It sounds like Doug Baldwin has a lot of courage.