Cleveland WR Andrew Hawkins Beautifully Explains Why He Wore A ‘Justice For Tamir Rice’ Shirt

Senior Editor
12.16.14 18 Comments

You’re likely familiar with the story of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by police in Cleveland after brandishing what they thought was a gun (it turned out to be a toy). Rice’s story has been a hot button issue (for obvious reasons) these last few weeks. On Sunday, ahead of their game with Cincinnati, Cleveland Browns WR Andrew Hawkins wore a shirt with “Justice For Tamir Rice” written on it.

Andrew Hawkins

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The Cleveland Police Union quickly responded asking for an apology from the Browns organization.

It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law. They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland Police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology.

I won’t comment on that statement, it’s ridiculousness speaks for itself. Andrew Hawkins, however, was asked to comment about it after Monday’s practice. Here’s some excerpts from the video above (the whole thing is worth a watch).

“I was taught that justice is a right that every American should have. Also justice should be the goal of every American. I think that’s what makes this country. To me, justice means the innocent should be found innocent. It means that those who do wrong should get their due punishment. Ultimately, it means fair treatment. So a call for justice shouldn’t offend or disrespect anybody. A call for justice shouldn’t warrant an apology.

“To clarify, I utterly respect and appreciate every police officer that protects and serves all of us with honesty, integrity and the right way. And I don’t think those kind of officers should be offended by what I did. My mom taught me my entire life to respect law enforcement. I have family, close friends that are incredible police officers and I tell them all the time how they are much braver than me for it. So my wearing a T-shirt wasn’t a stance against every police officer or every police department. My wearing the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons to innocent people.

“Being a police officer takes bravery. And I understand that they’re put in difficult positions and have to make those snap decisions. As a football player, I know a little bit about snap decisions, obviously on an extremely lesser and non-comparative scale, because when a police officer makes a snap decision, it’s literally a matter of life and death. That’s hard a situation to be in. But if the wrong decision is made, based on pre-conceived notions or the wrong motives, I believe there should be consequence. Because without consequence, naturally the magnitude of the snap decisions is lessened, whether consciously or unconsciously.

“I’m not an activist, in any way, shape or form. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred I keep my opinions to myself on most matters. I worked extremely hard to build and keep my reputation especially here in Ohio, and by most accounts I’ve done a solid job of decently building a good name. Before I made the decision to wear the T-shirt, I understood I was putting that reputation in jeopardy to some of those people who wouldn’t necessarily agree with my perspective. I understood there was going to be backlash, and that scared me, honestly. But deep down I felt like it was the right thing to do. If I was to run away from what I felt in my soul was the right thing to do, that would make me a coward, and I can’t live with that. God wouldn’t be able to put me where I am today, as far as I’ve come in life, if I was a coward.

Forget the actual shooting of Tamir Rice and what went into making the decision. There are parts on that front that are probably debatable. But the fact that Rice was left there lying on the ground, lying there with gunshots in his body as two police officers didn’t administer first aid speaks volumes about the justice that Andrew Hawkins is referring to.

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