While celebrities these days are not particularly known for their political courage or progressive stances, many have spoken out, particularly African-American artists, entertainers, musicians, actors, athletes and others, against the outrageous non-indictment of killer cop Darren Wilson in the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Perhaps the most widely televised act of solidarity in the United States occurred on Nov. 30 as the St. Louis Rams took to the field for their National Football League game against the Oakland Raiders. Wide receivers Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Kenny Britt and Chris Givens, along with tight end Jared Cook, exited the players’ tunnel with their hands in the air in the popular “Hands up, don’t shoot” posture that has become a powerful symbol in the movement for justice for Brown.
“We wanted to come out and show our respect to the protesters that have been doing a heck of a job,” said Cook, who along with the four receivers took part in an outside protest prior to the game. Dozens of protesters later blocked a street and then marched, chanting “Black lives matter!” and taking several arrests. (chicagotribune.com, Dec. 1)
St. Louis police and cops around the U.S. denounced the five heroic players and arrogantly demanded the NFL punish them. However, NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said none of the five players would be fined or suspended. “We respect and understand the concerns of all individuals who have expressed views on this tragic situation,” said McCarthy. (reuters.com, Dec. 1)
Others speak out
NFL running back Reggie Bush of the Detroit Lions also came under fire for expressing his views. Zionist supporters of the apartheid state of Israel and other racists took their wrath out on Bush for daring to show the similarities between Ferguson and Palestine.
Bush posted a photo on Instagram of Palestinian photojournalist Hamdi Abu Rahma holding a sign reading, “The Palestinian people know what mean to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity #Ferguson #Justice.” Bush wrote, “No matter who you are, what color skin you have, where you live, we are all in this together! This isn’t a Ferguson problem it’s a Global Problem! We need change NOW! What happened to humanity? #JusticeForMikeBrown.”
Despite racist venom spewed his way, Bush refused to back down. The next day, he again posted another Abu Rahma photo of a Palestinian girl with a sign, “Ferguson with love from Palestine.” (mondoweiss.net, Nov. 27)
Entertainers also spoke out. Comedian and actor Chris Rock stated via Twitter on the night of Nov. 24: “Doesn’t take 100 days to decide if murder is a crime, it takes 100 days to figure out how to tell people it isn’t… #FergusonDecision.” As of Dec. 1, more than 51,635 retweets of Rock’s statement had occurred.
Actor and TV star Jesse Williams tweeted right after the announcement: “There are no variables to ‘unarmed’ at a distance. It doesn’t matter where my hands are if there’s nothing in them & you KNOW I’m unarmed.”
White entertainers also expressed their dismay to their fans and the world. Katy Perry tweeted: “Feeling stuck all the way over here in Sydney seeing the news just now… Sending my prayers to Ferguson & praying for an equal America.”
Country music star Garth Brooks backed out of his “Thanksgiving Day” appearance on the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” stating on Facebook that he arrived in New York on the evening of the grand jury announcement “to the news of the civil unrest that was going on in our nation. To spend the day promoting our stuff like nothing was wrong seemed distasteful to me.” (Associated Press, Nov. 26)
Many well-known celebrities joined the call for the Nov. 28 shopping boycott under the Twitter hashtags #NotOneDime and #BlackoutBlackFriday, including hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, actors Jesse Williams and Kat Graham, and television journalist Soledad O’Brien. (Agence France-Presse, Nov. 27)