WASHINGTON D.C. – Police brutality has been a national issue. The desire to discuss solutions brought 27 players from the Washington Redskins, and several high-ranking police officials in the D.C. area Monday to begin dialogue regarding this complicated matter.
After two and a half hours of meeting, there were plenty of questions left unanswered but the discussion was considered productive. It has been a good start because both parties got a better view of each other’s perspectives, The Washington Post reported.
About 40 people attended the meeting. Washington Redskins director of player development, Malcolm Blacken, and team chaplain, Brett Fuller, established cooperation with police departments and county sheriff offices. The law enforcement personnel in attendance included Fairfax County Chief of Police Col. Edward Roessler Jr., Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman, Leesburg Chief of Police Gregory Brown, and Prince George’s County Chief of Police Hank Stawinski.
Sheriff Chapman, who works in the county where many Redskin players live said, “This is important for us to connect with the communities that we serve, especially to a group of folks that are community heroes.” He said that it is important that both sides to listen and understand each other’s perspective because otherwise, they’re “never going to come together.”
DeSean Jackson was among the players who met with law enforcement officials at Redskins Park and for him, it was a positive experience. He said he wants police officers to feel like they can talk to African Americans and that he was able to gain insight on police training and police reform policies that have taken place on a micro level.
Jackson has been the most vocal player on the Redskins about police brutality. He was one of four players who lifted his balled-up fist during the national anthem in protest Sept. 25 during Washington’s Week 3 road game against the New York Giants.
— Hail Redskins (@HailDCRedskins) September 26, 2016
He even wore a customized cleats the following week against the Cleveland Browns with a caution tape design. He was later fined by the NFL for violating its uniform policy.
— Robert Littal (@BSO) October 13, 2016
Stawinski said he respected Jackson’s attempt to bring light to the issue. The department never considered boycotting Redskins games at FedEx Field in Landover.
Jackson understands that despite having no real answers, the dialogue has been a good start and they “want to finish it.” He said, “The biggest thing is they understand the problems, and I think they want to attack them. For us here at the Redskins, we just really want to help change the mindset, the mentality, and try and figure out a source that can help save lives.”
Fuller asked why African Americans are killed at a rate twice that of other ethnic groups in the country despite making up just 11 percent of the population. Regarding his question, he said, “That was the only thing I was trying to present that didn’t get answered as well as I thought, yet it was answered factually according to the way the question was presented.”
Brown, who is Leesburg’s first African American police chief said the issue isn’t a “light-switch fix” and will require time to resolve with a change in police culture, police subculture, and police training. He said that law enforcement has to gain trust among African Americans. That will take a lot of effort, which will involve police reform, government reform, and assistance from the community.
“I don’t view it as an issue of rebuilding trust, I see it as an issue of earning that trust in the first place,” Stawinski added. “It’s incumbent upon me to provide thoughtful answers to these questions and show a way forward because we’re able to assuage the fundamental pain that people have by showing that we’re thoughtful about earning the trust in the first place and then going forward and leading to a better outcome for all of us.”