In the wake of two more officer-involved shootings of black men in Tulsa and Charlotte this week, Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin used his time at the podium to issue a call to action to attorneys general from all 50 states.
"As an American black male in this country, I'm suggesting calling — I'm demanding — that all 50 state attorney generals call for a review of their policies and training policies for police and law enforcement," Baldwin said, "to eliminate militaristic cultures while putting a higher emphasis on de-escalation tactics and crisis-management measures."
Baldwin pointed to the tragic shooting of Tamir Rice in Cleveland in 2014 as an example.
Rice, a 12-year-old child playing with a toy gun in a park, was shot and killed by police officers who did not make any attempt to assess or de-escalate the situation before shooting. Following Rice’s death, a United States Justice Department investigation found that the responding officers had no training on attempting to de-escalate situations before resorting to force.
As a result, Ohio’s attorney general, Mike DeWine, eventually took action to establish mandatory training in de-escalation techniques for Ohio law enforcement officers. Now Baldwin is calling on attorneys general from all 50 states to assess their policies and do the same.
Baldwin, whose father is a police officer, emphasized that his statement was not "an indictment of our law enforcement agencies." He said he was motivated to speak out about this issue after seeing the video of the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher by police in Tulsa.
"We know that there’s a select few — a very minute few — of law enforcement who are not abiding by those laws and policies," Baldwin said. "However, we also know that there are laws and policies in place that are not correcting the issue that we have in our society right now."
Baldwin’s statement comes one day after his teammate Richard Sherman addressed the media on the same topic.
"More videos have come out of guys getting killed, and I think people are still missing the point," Sherman said. "The reason these guys are kneeling, the reason we’re locking arms is to bring people together to make people aware that this is not right. It’s not right for people to get killed in the street."
Baldwin pointed to the preamble of the Constitution to support his perspective, citing its directive that "in order to form a more perfect union, we must establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility."
He also quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, who said, "We must not become a culture, a society, that is more concerned with order than justice."
"And I believe that if we’re more concerned with order than justice, we’ll lose both," Baldwin said.
The Washington State Attorney General’s office tweeted that they had watched Baldwin’s presser "with interest," and said they will be reaching out to him soon to initiate a discussion.