The Black Lives Matter open line; a tribute to Razorback Jonathan Williams | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Black Lives Matter open line; a tribute to Razorback Jonathan Williams

Posted By on Sat, Dec 13, 2014 at 4:03 PM

  • Twitter
click to enlarge HISTORIC: Jonathan Williams after Missouri touchdown.
  • HISTORIC: Jonathan Williams after Missouri touchdown.
We'll call this the open line. But there's news today. Crowds marched in cities across the U.S. today to protest police mistreatment of black people. The crowds were huge in New York (above) and small (but vibrant) in Little Rock (below). The Washington, D.C. march also was robust.

The occasion is a good time to mention a deep article by Evan Demirel in Sporting Life Arkansas on Jonathan Williams, the Razorback football player, who apparently made history as the first athlete to make a "Don't Shoot" gesture in a sporting event after a touchdown reception against Missouri. He's pulled back from his public advocacy after a remonstrance from Coach Bret Bielema. But it remains an important and, for some, controversial event.

It shouldn't be controversial. We tolerate symbolism of all sorts from college players, religious gestures particularly. The "I Can't Breathe" messages being worn by some athletes have even been welcomed in some pro quarters as social awareness by ball players, whose lives, after all, are about more than playing ball.

The nasty critics of Jonathan Williams want to boil his gesture down and subject it to scrutiny as if he took a side on the conflicting — and by no means one-sided — testimony before the St. Louis grand jury on whether Michael Brown had his arms upraised when he was shot. The gesture has become — and will remain — a universal and readily understandable symbol, Demirel writes:

Williams hasn’t gone into detail about what he exactly meant by the gesture. Nationwide, many people have criticized the gesture he used as inaccurate, citing witnesses who have said Michael Brown did not actually raise his hands in a defenseless pose when a policeman shot him. The gesture, of course, was triggered by the circumstances surrounding a death in a St. Louis suburb but it ultimately isn’t about who did what, when and where in any one specific incident. On a higher level, it represents a way to give voice to concerns and fears that have frustrated millions of African Americans for centuries.

Yes. Too many unarmed black men lie dead, with no accountability for those who shot them in sometimes questionable circumstances. Little Rock has its own Michael Brown in Eugene Ellison, 67-year-old father of two Little Rock police officers, shot dead for raising a cane at two police officers who entered his apartment for no good reason, causing an unhappy reaction from him. The police investigation is marked by shoddy investigative work, special treatment of the cops who did the shooting and had relatives in the investigative unit and a lack of any public disapproval of their actions by city officials. You'd think somebody would have said by now that two armed police officers — who blundered into a private place they didn't belong for no good reason — should have been sufficiently trained to subdue an old unarmed man without killing him. Yet the city of Little Rock continues to fight to represent the officers in a civil lawsuit, contending they should be immune for their actions. The city argues, laughably, that they acted in the interest of the well being of a man who was alive until they walked in. 

Jonathan Williams may be the last to put his hands in the air for the Hogs. But until the situation improves, expect to see more athletes'  hands in the air, including in real-life situations o the street. Whether it will be a protection against shooting resins to be seen.

  • KATV/Alexis Rogers/Twitter
  • AT ARKANSAS CAPITOL: Black People Matter.
  • Twitter/KATV
  • PROTEST SIGNS: In Little Rock today.

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (53)

Showing 1-50 of 53

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-50 of 53

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Eclipse-o-rama underway

    Times photographer Brian Chilson is in Riverfront Park participating in eclipsealypse. Here's a shot of people trying out their safety glasses.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • Corporate welfare is a failure. So why does it keep increasing?

    Huge study says corporate welfare is inefficient and unproductive. But politicians keep doing it. Wonder why.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • Police identify three dead in Birchwood

    Police have now released some details about the apparent slaying Sunday of two children and suicide of the man who killed them on Birchwood Drive in West Little Rock. Court recordx indicate the suspect had a history of domestic violence.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Super Bowl line

    Over to you.
    • Feb 7, 2016
  • Campus gun bill clears committee

    The so-called compromise amendment that will allow anyone 25 or older with a training certificate carry a concealed weapon on public college campuses was approved in a Senate committee this afternoon.
    • Feb 21, 2017
  • LR speakers blast state board for double standard

    A series of speakers, beginning with Sen. Joyce Elliott, denounced what they saw as a hidden agenda favoring charter schools at the state Department of Education and asked the state Board of Education for return of local control.
    • May 12, 2016

Most Shared

  • Lynchings hidden in the history of the Hot Springs Confederate monument

    Hot Springs twice erupted into the kind of violence that has its roots in the issues left unresolved by the Civil War, and both times, it happened right where that monument to Confederate soldiers stands today.
  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.

Most Viewed

  • Police identify three dead in Birchwood

    Police have now released some details about the apparent slaying Sunday of two children and suicide of the man who killed them on Birchwood Drive in West Little Rock. Court recordx indicate the suspect had a history of domestic violence.
  • University of Texas removes Confederate statues

    Confederate statuary was removed overnight from a prominent spot on the University of Texas campus because they symbolize white supremacy and neo-Nazism, the university president said.
  • Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    I was amused by the excitement of a NASA scientist over today's eclipse, as reported by CNN.
  • Open line and Civil War update

    More Confederacy defenders were on hand in Bentonville against imagined threats to a one of hte Confederate statues put up long after the Civil War to spin a narrative about the noble Lost Cause.

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation