Yesterday, Tulsa police released footage of yet another unarmed American killed by police. Today, as one could predict, the victim's name—Terence Crutcher—is trending on Twitter and other social media outlets are buzzing with anger, outrage, and sorrow. This situation—an unarmed man seeking police help getting shot dead in the street by those sworn to protect him—is exactly the type of horrifically common event San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is protesting when he takes a knee during the national anthem. He said as much himself:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
Since Kaepernick first began his protest, there have been thousands of articles written about his protest, incalculable hours of video dedicated to discussing his protest, and dozens of busy NFL and corporate PR departments trying to figure out how to best navigate a potential political minefield.
Also, since Colin Kaepernick first began his protest, 110 people have been killed by police.
The disgusting Terence Crutcher shooting is just that—another disgusting shooting. It sadly does not change the opinions of those who were and still are against Kaepernick's protest. Kate Upton isn't tweeting condolences to Crutcher's family. Trent Dilfer won't lecture Oklahoma police about how they should act going forward. This is because the problem was never that Americans don't understand what Colin Kaepernick is protesting. The problem is that they don't feel compelled to change it. Some murders don't bother them.
They don't feel anger, outrage, and sorrow when they see footage of these murders, at least not the same degree of anger, outrage, and sorrow they feel when someone "disrespects" the flag or doesn't show the proper reverence for "The Star Spangled Banner." They've seen Americans murdered by officers on camera. They've seen Americans fully comply with officers' demands, and still get murdered on camera. They've seen their fellow countrymen unfairly abused and annihilated, Sixth Amendment rights disregarded as emotional police officers act as their judge and jury.
This isn't new.
Things will only change when the Dilfers, Uptons, and America's "basket of deplorables" feel as sickened by the state-funded murder of Americans who don't look like them as they are by football players not standing for the national anthem. When most Americans' gut reaction to these videos is compassion for the lifeless victim and not worry that the killer holding the weapon will be held responsible for their actions. When police officers and justice officials consciously act as if the rights granted by our founding documents actually apply to all Americans, not just those who look like them.
Until then, until murder is universally recognized as more egregious than not complying with an NFL marketing strategy, expect the shootings and protests to continue.