“I’m an African-American and I’m not happy how the justice has been dealt with over the years, and the state of oppression in our community,” the NFL MVP said. “But we also as black people have to do right by ourselves. We can’t be hypocrites.
“And I say that on one voice and also another voice that when you go public or when things happen in the community, it’s not the fact that things are happening, it’s the way they are being treated after they happen.”
Late Tuesday afternoon, a black Charlotte police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, also black, in an apartment complex parking lot about 15 minutes from Bank of America Stadium.
The police said Scott exited his vehicle carrying a gun. Scott’s family said he was unarmed and sitting in his car reading a book while waiting for his son to come home from school.
Protests involving hundreds on Tuesday night turned to violence. Rocks were thrown, police vehicles were vandalized and fires were set. Sixteen police offers reportedly were injured.
“It could have happened in Atlanta. It could have happened in Los Angeles. It doesn’t matter,” Newton said. “It’s embarrassing for things to keep happening. And from what I do know we had an incident that happened in 2013 that had something to do with the police and it went to jury and whatever, it got washed away in time.”
Newton was referring to the 2013 fatal shooting of Jonathan Ferrell by Charlotte officer Randall Kerrick. Ferrell, who was black, was shot 10 times by Kerrick, who is white.
Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter. A judge declared a mistrial after the jury could not reach a verdict.
“My big thing is holding people accountable, no matter what the race, no matter what the gender is, no matter what the age is,” Newton said. “We all have to hold each other accountable. And that is the world we are living in.
“When you get a person that does some unjust things or killing an innocent person, or killing fathers, or killing people that have actual families, that’s real. I have a son and a daughter that I’m responsible for. How would it be if one day they come home and there’s no more daddy?”
Newton has been criticized in the past for not taking a stand on such issues. He considers it a no-win situation.
But he spoke passionately and in depth on this one.
“I’m a black person, I’m an African-American …,” Newton said. “And as soon as you say something that we still have to do something right for blacks, you know, that’s just, ‘Oh, well he’s this, he’s that.’
“Yes, the police brutality is embarrassing to talk about but when you sit here and list the names it’s crazy to even think about how does this happen. How do police take a leave of absence and still get paid?”
Newton reminded there are a lot of black people “that don’t do right by black people.”
“So you can’t be a hypocrite and just say ‘Oh a white man or a white police officer killed a black man,’ ” Newton said. “Now that’s still messed up and I’m not sitting up here and saying that’s OK. I am saying we have to have a clear eye vision on both sides and it starts with everyone holding each other accountable and policing yourselves.”
Newton said this understanding he is going to be critiqued on it.
“And if I don’t say something it’s, ‘Oh you fake and flaw,’ ” Newton said. “I’m a firm believer of justice and doing the right thing and I can’t repeat it enough about holding people accountable.”