Russell Okung explains his protest, for those who aren’t listening

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As long as any NFL players lodge any form of protest during the national anthem, there will be others who try to twist those actions for their own publicity and political benefit.

That’s why Chargers left tackle Russell Okung felt compelled to explain why he continues to raise his fist during the anthem — to bring attention to police brutality and racial discrimination.

“One, we’re not protesting the president of the United States,” Okung said, via Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. “I think it’s unfortunate that the president , I guess, does not respect advanced American citizenship, in terms of what our country actually looks like – the reflection of that. Our country is a place where there has always been creative conflict in order for us to move forward. I think what we’re doing now is healthy.

“It’s no direct reflection of disrespect for the military. I think all the guys who have protested are definitely for the military. It’s been unfortunate to see the president has worked to gain political points by putting players down.”

So wait, if it’s not the president, and not the military, what is it Okung is trying to draw attention to.

“I think it’s pretty simple. I think the way laws are set up, whether we’re looking at the civil rights amendment, people have abilities and [power] in which how they can handle people and handle people from certain backgrounds,” Okung said. “I think police brutality is a really difficult issue in this country and disproportionate to people of color — black people specifically. I think it’s important to further that conversation and really look forward to ways of change.”

He thinks the discussions that stemmed from the attention the protests created has been positive, even as the NFL stumbles along trying to find a way to keep the political football from being spiked in their faces.

“I think there have been a lot of conversations. People are really aware of things that people . . . people maybe never saw this as an issue before,” he said. “It’s just so unfortunate that people try to shift the narrative for their own interests and create propaganda around these issues.”

As long as players have the platform and attention, they will continue to use it. The same is likely true of the President, as he wakes up in the morning and checks his Twitter mentions.

55 responses to “Russell Okung explains his protest, for those who aren’t listening

  1. Players don’t get to decide what offends someone, and most people came to their own conclusion to be offended, had nothing to do with the President. He’s just one of many. Most military people are offended by the kneeling, doesn’t matter if you didn’t intend to offend them. As are many of the rest of us. I respect their “right” to do it but don’t agree with it. I realize he isn’t kneeling but still speaking to same topic.

  2. It’s been 3 yrs of “bringing attention” and “starting the discussion”, yet these situations are unchanged. Maybe ppl with credit card debt could just raise their fist every time the statement shows up, instead of actually addressing the problem…gosh I’m so sick of these articles.

  3. The percentage of unjustified shootings of Blacks is less than 1 percent. What is the percentage of Black on Black violence? It way higher. Again this issue is a canard. If he cared about violence against blacks he would be protesting in Chicago.

  4. Again where were the players over the summer. Why do it during the anthem? To blame the president is easy. Your ‘protest’ are a joke. Especially when your data does not show real problems for blacks. No wonder so many are put off by this phony outrage.

  5. “It’s just so unfortunate that people try to shift the narrative for their own interests and create propaganda around these issues.”

    Kaep shifted the narrative when his agent told him he came across as a petulant child when he was pouting

  6. There comes a time when you’re deemed not worth the trouble and your time is coming, Russell.

  7. “He thinks the discussions that stemmed from the attention the protests created has been positive…”

    He’s wrong.

    You can’t expect a positive reaction to disrespecting the flag while on the job. He claims to not “disrespect for the military”, but his actions cause most of the military to feel disrespected (myself included).

    Perception is reality – and his perception is the President “does not respect advanced American citizenship” (whatever that means). I disagree with his perception, but that is his perception and don’t expect him to change his mind.

    I hope he doesn’t expect his opinion to change my perception.

    Pick a different time, place and method and you might begin a positive discussion.

  8. Honestly, this isn’t complicated. Some people want to strawman and pretend it’s about the military or the President, because they can’t argue the actual facts.

    In 2016 black Americans accounted for 31% of the people killed by police in the U.S. The same year black Americans made up just 16% of the country’s population! That is an issue. It ought to be addressed. There is nothing wrong with drawing attention to it. It isn’t simple; it doesn’t have a quick fix. But demonizing citizens for expressing concern over it, trying to twist the narrative to make it seem unreasonable or suggesting it is about political allegiance DEFINITELY aren’t part of the solution.

    It’s about time we all started looking for a common ground, instead of acting as if anyone that disagrees with our point of view is either stupid, dangerous or unpatriotic.

  9. What is the problem if the players are protesting against Trump? That would be a public service, because the Trump supporters would be exposed by crying about such protests.

    Let the players who support Trump, if there are any, raise their nazi salutes also. The decent players need to know where their teammates stand.

  10. OK. Awareness… Say tomorrow, every person on the face of the planet
    is “aware” of what he says. Then what? What is changed?

  11. But it’s much easier to generate fake outrage if it’s about the country, flag, Mom, and apple pie … and not about police beating up innocent citizens.

  12. Mr. Okung sounds like a very intelligent man and makes some excellent points. However he should model his protests after Lebron James and leave it off the field. People go to the games to watch the athletes ; not to get caught up in politics. The NBA has effectively separated the two. The NFL has not.

  13. Except people like Okung are the ones who aren’t listening. First, many Americans have made it clear that protesting during the National Anthem is insulting to the nation as a whole, no matter the intent of the protester. Considering that many protest defenders have no problem, for example, with demonizing the display of the flag of the Confederate States of America, on the basis of “the offense it causes to others, no matter the intent of the person displaying it”, there is an immoral hypocrisy and contradiction here. Second, many people confidently declare that police brutality is “disproportionate against people of color”, except that statistically that doesn’t hold water. For at least police shootings of unarmed people, the rate is PROPORTIONATE to the CRIME RATE of various racial groups. It is logical that a fixed percentage of criminal situations would end in the police shooting someone, and unfortunately the crime rate among certain groups is much higher than for others, which is why the per capita rate of shootings is disproportionate. It is fair to protest against police brutality in general, but these players are convinced of a specific racial injustice that investigation points to not existing.

  14. When you use symbols of my country to protest anything then I’m not listening. You lost me.

  15. If you use the Anthem and/or flag to protest *anything* at this point, it is clearly disrespectful and counter productive. The fact that your ilk can’t find another protest venue, or are just too dense to “get it that you’re pi$$ing a lot of people off”, speaks volumes about your common sense and grip on reality.

  16. They have been saying this for a long time. If you don’t understand then you aren’t listening to what they are saying – which is the biggest problem in the first place. If you aren’t willing to actively listen to someone, you are marginalizing them – and that goes for both sides of the fence. How hard is it to include ALL people in laws and social change?

  17. He is so vague in his answer, if he wants to convince people maybe he should have more facts about police brutality and the “protest” (which really is a demonstration) that he jumped on.

  18. I can just hear the wails of injustice and racism now, if white folk or government intervened on behalf of supposed black victims. Just whom is capable of doing anything about it, other than YOURSELVES? You don’t really want any help, you just want sheep to think you do.

  19. It’s not just that they are not listening but they are reading either. It’s not they they are incapable of listening or reading. It’s more of that they don’t want to listen or read. Some of them refuse to believe that racism exists. They have to make an effort to not see it. While others do believe that racism does exist, it’s just that they don’t care. They were lucky enough to be born white so it’s literally no skin of their hides. It’s better them than me is how they think.

  20. So Okung believes that he is protesting disproportionate treatment of blacks when every study proves that is a fallacy and in fact whites are proportionately more likely to be the subject of police brutality.

    Just so we all understand.

    I wonder if he knew this if he would still “protest”? And why does his protest make sense during the National Anthem which represents the ideals he seems to want?

  21. You make it sound like the President was the first one to jump on the players for protesting during the National Anthem. That’s far from true. It started with your everyday fan in everyday America. Whether the fan was right or wrong for criticizing the players or whether the players are right or wrong to protest is no longer the issue. It’s all about a President that now fans the flames to stir his base, and players that fan the flames back toward a President that doesn’t care about the player or the fan. Which in the end leads to the message of social injustice is being lost.

  22. If it’s not about the military then stop protesting during something veterans hold dear. Find another way.

    The fact is, these guys like the attention, and their twitter mentions and profile go up for doing this.

    This is about THEM. They aren’t actually doing a thing to help what they are protesting against.

    THE PLAYERS are the ones who caused this, and are making this worse. They have no right to complain about any reaction.

  23. These protest are yesterday’s news. The players have milked it for everything they are gonna get out of it. They’ve proved that they are just a bunch of grandstanders and really couldn’t care less about these issues they “champion” with the exception of Jenkins and even he is at the end of his rope in what he can do. So can we please stop the fake outrage since many cannot even articulate why they are angry if they are pressed and they damn sure can’t back it up with reliable data so I for one have tuned out.

  24. Hypocrisy is when you defend your right to fly the Confederate and Nazi flags, but think that kneeling or sitting down during the anthem is an unforgivable demonstration of non-patriotism and disunity.

  25. There is really bad wave of violence the past few weeks in a part of the city. Sucks! Now the community has asked for a large police presence to help stop the violence. In a statement the chief of police are committed to help bring down the violence and they said they will aggressively enforce the laws while on patrol to help. The reality is often there is a need for police in high crime areas. I am fortunate that I have never lived in a an area that required a large police presence to stem crime, but most of us haven’t. I put out there that maybe some of this disproportional application of the law might have more to do with the concentration of population and police. It is a catch 22. You need more police , more arrest are made. But the bottom line as some mention here 1 person can not the protest are this or that. Maybe for him that is true maybe the next player it is different. Thing for me is I have said it over and over again, I tune into football for an escape. Not to become part of a social protest every week week in and week out and I am getting sick of hearing how I am suppose to feel about it.

  26. So just to clear things up, it’s not about the president even though he take 3 or 4 shots at the president in the following paragraph. And it’s not about disrespecting the military even though the majority of fans feel its disrespectful to the military.

    He doesnt get to tell us how we are supposed to feel for his blatant disrespect for our country and the 2 minutes we dedicate to the men and women that died protecting our freedom. Especially when he throws up a racist hand gesture that has a history of hate and anti white sentiment

  27. Go to Chicago, protest the murder rate there. Then I’ll think you’re something other than an attention grabbing uneducated fraud. #notworking

  28. Before I even read a single comment, I bet somewhere in the first three comments some nincompoop STILL refuses to get back to the actual reasons for the protests, and will be bloviating about whatever narrative they created that was never true about these protests to begin with.

  29. snowlock2013 says:
    August 14, 2018 at 9:46 am
    Go to Chicago, protest the murder rate there. Then I’ll think you’re something other than an attention grabbing uneducated fraud. #notworking
    ———-

    Oh hey, angry White guy.

  30. pftidbro says:
    August 14, 2018 at 6:41 am
    Players don’t get to decide what offends someone, and most people came to their own conclusion to be offended, had nothing to do with the President. He’s just one of many. Most military people are offended by the kneeling, doesn’t matter if you didn’t intend to offend them. As are many of the rest of us. I respect their “right” to do it but don’t agree with it. I realize he isn’t kneeling but still speaking to same topic.
    ———

    You don’t get to shift the narrative. No one really cares if you are “offended”, but you don’t get to create a narrative separate from the actual intent of the protests.

    You’re welcome for that reminder.

  31. factschecker says:
    August 14, 2018 at 8:20 am
    It’s not just that they are not listening but they are reading either. It’s not they they are incapable of listening or reading. It’s more of that they don’t want to listen or read. Some of them refuse to believe that racism exists. They have to make an effort to not see it. While others do believe that racism does exist, it’s just that they don’t care. They were lucky enough to be born white so it’s literally no skin of their hides. It’s better them than me is how they think.

    ————-

    Factual.

  32. gtodriver says:
    August 14, 2018 at 7:29 am

    Pick a different time, place and method and you might begin a positive discussion.
    ———–

    aka away from anything you care about that makes you feel uncomfortable — which, as someone who is clearly culpable for continuing to perpetuate the problems being protested by willfully burying your head in the sand and not wanting to acknowledge/deal with the problem — correct?

    It ain’t about appeasing you.

    Be uncomfortable and CHANGE YOUR WAYS. Inaction is culpability, as well.

  33. cardinealsfan20 says:

    August 14, 2018 at 7:39 am

    I am against the racist kneelers and support MY President, Donald Trump!

    —————————————————-

    Amen brother!

  34. GOP Hypocrisy:
    US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says that forcing athletes to stand for the national anthem “is about respect for our military”.

    Meanwhile he ran a bank (OneWest Bank) that foreclosed on 54 active duty servicemembers, in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. He was nicknamed “the Foreclosure King”.

  35. Your choice of when you are doing your protest invalidates your argument. You want to do a protest? You have 23 hours and 55 minutes of time in that day to do it. The fact that you choose THEN to do it is the reason people are offended. Just give it up. Find ways to make positive change. YOU WILL GET NOWHERE CONTINUING THIS FORM OF PROTEST.

  36. Since the genesis of these protests are to call attention to police brutality (and one case of it is one too many), it’s only right and proper to call attention to the peril police of all colors are placed in when confronting black men.

    For every mostly guilty man of color killed by police, 18.5 cops are killed by men of color. This is an uncomfortable truth but underscores why some cops might have itchy trigger fingers.

    My solution is simple: permit players to protest but at the same time have various 18-19 relatives and friends of police also standing alongside the protestors on the sideline. This gives the fans who are so inclined the opportunity to symbolically honor those law officers who died doing their jobs as well as law enforcement in general graphically highlighting the peril they face daily… while at the same time, enabling players of conscience to protest what they perceive as injustices.

    This should make everyone happy.. or happier.

  37. atthemurph says:
    August 14, 2018 at 8:37 am
    So Okung believes that he is protesting disproportionate treatment of blacks when every study proves that is a fallacy and in fact whites are proportionately more likely to be the subject of police brutality.

    Just so we all understand.

    I wonder if he knew this if he would still “protest”? And why does his protest make sense during the National Anthem which represents the ideals he seems to want?

    ————————————

    No, actually all the data shows that minorities are far more likely, proportionally, to be killed by police than whites and the contrast is even MORE stark if you look at the statistics involving UNARMED civilians. If it was simply a case of minorities committing more crime, you wouldn’t see such a big disparity in the percentages of unarmed minorities killed versus armed ones.

    Oh, and that anthem you think represents your ‘ideal’ America? It was written by a self proclaimed racist who felt black people were indolent & untrustworthy & the third verse, which it seems you don’t know, is a direct attack on the slaves he felt had deserted their owners!

  38. Guy who’s made $70 million playing football thinks he’s “oppressed.”

    Newsflash: If you have to explain what you’re protesting, you A) don’t know yourself, and B) are not going to win the hearts and minds of anybody who doesn’t already hate America.

  39. Has anyone ever asked any of these anti-America NFL Employee protesters to recite some facts for the rest of us to consume and understand? I personally was taught to not stereotype any group of people, whether it be a groups occupation or their cultural background. Those spankings from mom cleared up any confusion I assure you! God Bless You Mom!

  40. The players can protest all they want as long as they are willing to accept the consequences of alienating a large percentage of the NFL’s fan base. Ultimately, if they truly believe in their concerns then they should be willing to sacrifice half of their tremendous salary they receive so even alienating half of the fan base should not stop them. But there is a better solution. Instead of harming the profession that has given you this great opportunity and in turn harming all those other people making far less than you that also rely on the NFL for their income, why not just donate half of your salary to the causes you hold dear? The great influx of cash to those organizations would help them create of more effective message that can reach the correct ears. Continuing to insult (purposely or not) the same people you are requesting change from is a losing effort. Put your great fortunes to work for the people you care about. Live a little less indulgent lives for the causes that you are so deeply involved in. Unless the protesters believe their Bently’s and mansions are more important than the cause that is.

  41. barrywhererufrom says:
    August 14, 2018 at 7:04 am
    The percentage of unjustified shootings of Blacks is less than 1 percent. What is the percentage of Black on Black violence? It way higher. Again this issue is a canard. If he cared about violence against blacks he would be protesting in Chicago.
    __________________________________
    You could have just said, “I get all my information from Fox News….” Out of curiosity what is an “unjustified shooting”? You can see all kinds of videos that look unjustified to me but there are no repercussions. Would beating an unarmed black man who is already handcuffed and prone be part of this fictional 1%? What about a mental health worker laying on his back with both arms up? How about a driver who informs the cop that he has a legal gun in the glove box and takes a few round immediately after? Na, it would count because he was in proximity of a gun right?
    God bless Murica

  42. An unbiased observer having no other information than the comment section of PFT would have no choice but to conclude that the majority of NFL fans support police violence and will do mental gymnastics will illogical reasoning to “stay the course”.

  43. Your comment is awaiting moderation-before we censor and delete it! says:
    August 14, 2018 at 7:33 am
    we dont care why you are protesting – we care that you are protesting during a game!
    do this on your own damn time!
    —————-
    He’s an NFL player, this is his own time!

    If you’re offended by this, despite knowing that his protest is not aimed at you, you need to grow up and stop being so sensitive, military included. It’s not his fault that you’re illogically offended by this. He’s trying to create positive change, and the appropriate response shouldn’t’ be to censor him. NFL players have this moment in the spotlight to do what they want with, within reason, which THEY HAVE EARNED. It’s their time, not yours.

    Just keep in mind that if y’all snowflakes would stop talking about how much it offends you, this wouldn’t be an issue and we could go back to reading article about football.

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