Panthers quarterback Cam Newton continued to try to walk a fine line on matters of race, as violence in the wake of the latest police shooting has gripped his city.
Newton spoke about his desire for “accountability,” but said that applied to the black community as well as police officers. And he also underscored his previous hesitance to get deep into racial politics, because he thinks it’s a conversation he can’t win.
“I’m in a position now where if I say something, it’s going to be critiqued,” Newton said. “And if I don’t say something, then I’m flawed.”
Newton’s city was on edge last night, with protestors squaring off against police officers, looting a Wal-Mart and stopping traffic on Interstate 85 when trucks were blocked by protestors and the contents were set on fire in the middle of the highway, as others threw rocks at passing vehicles.
The tensions arose from the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott by a black Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer. CMPD chief Kerr Putney said Scott was armed at the time of the shooting, though some witnesses have said he made no threatening gestures toward police.
Newton has avoided any discussion of race lately, saying in a GQ interview this summer: “I don’t want this to be about race, because it’s not. It’s not. Like, we’re beyond that. As a nation.”
But he also can’t ignore what’s happening around him.
“I have a son and a daughter that I’m responsible for,” he said. “So how would I be if one day they come home and there’s no more daddy?”
He said “my heart mourns for that family,” and that it was “embarrassing” for such incidents to keep happening, but also made it clear he didn’t have enough information about the shooting to pass judgements.
“I want to bring unity,” he said. “And football gives me that opportunity.”
That was in short supply after last night, as another city works to heal.