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17 Arrested Outside Super Bowl, Capping NFL Season of Racial Justice Protests On and Off Field

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The Philadelphia Eagles stunned the sports world by beating the New England Patriots Sunday night in Minneapolis with a 41-to-33 win in Super Bowl LII, the first-ever title for the Eagles. The game capped an historic season for the National Football League, in which African-American players staged league-wide protests against racial injustice and police brutality by taking the knee during the national anthem before games. Meanwhile, Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks was knocked out on the field and left the game with a concussion on Sunday. For more on the protests and new research on concussions, we speak with Mel Reeves, longtime human rights activist and organizer with Take a Knee Nation. And we speak with Dr. Harry Edwards, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of several books, including "The Revolt of the Black Athlete," reissued last year for its 50th anniversary edition.

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Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: "Alright" by Kendrick Lamar. Protesters in Minneapolis sang his song on Sunday night as they blocked a light-rail line carrying Super Bowl ticket holders to the stadium as a protest against racial injustice. This is Democracy Now! I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonzalez.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, the Philadelphia Eagles stunned the sports world by beating the New England Patriots Sunday night in Minneapolis with a 41-to-33 win in Super Bowl LII, the first-ever Super Bowl title for the Eagles. The game capped an historic season for the National Football League, in which African-American players staged league-wide protests against racial injustice and police brutality by taking the knee during the national anthem before games.

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In Minneapolis, just hours ahead of the Super Bowl, several dozen members of Black Lives Matter and its supporters blocked a light-rail station near the U.S. Bank Stadium in frigid temperatures to protest against racial injustice. They all wore sweatshirts that read "You Can't Play with Black Lives." During the action, one protester read a list of demands.

PROTESTER: We, the Black Visions Collective and the Black Lives Matter Global Network, call for divestment from the deadly systems of oppression that harm black people, fracture black families and disrupt black futures. Here in Minneapolis, we call for an immediate freeze of police hiring. No more cops! We call for the police budget to be rolled back, until our tax dollars no longer fund the harassment, brutalization and murder of black people.

AMY GOODMAN: About 17 protesters were arrested in the action.

And again, if you watched the Super Bowl, you may have noticed that Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks was knocked out on the field and left the game with a concussion -- or maybe that's why you didn't watch.

Well, for more on the protests and new research on concussions, as well as what happened outside the stadium, we're joined by two guests: in Minneapolis, Mel Reeves, longtime human rights activist, organizer of Take a Knee conference; and in Palo Alto, California, we speak with the legendary sports and movement historian Dr. Harry Edwards, professor emeritus of sociology at University of California, Berkeley, author of a number of books, including The Revolt of the Black Athlete, reissued last year for its 50th anniversary edition, was the architect of the 1968 Olympic Project for Human Rights, which was -- well, resulted in the most famous photograph from the Olympics. That's right, 1968, Mexico City, the Black Power salute.

This is Democracy Now! Mel Reeves, let's go to you first in Minneapolis. Talk about why 17 people got arrested, why you were outside protesting.