Odell Beckham Jr., Browns undaunted after Breonna Taylor decision
Cleveland browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. talks about his now encouraging others to vote after admitting he’d never done so before.
Akron Beacon Journal
As he started work Thursday, Odell Beckham Jr. tweeted that he was disgusted and heartbroken over Wednesday’s decision by a Kentucky grand jury not to file murder or manslaughter charges in the death of Breonna Taylor.
“But the worst part about it is.. I’m not shocked,” he said on Twitter.
About three hours later, the Cleveland Browns receiver’s feelings had not changed.
“It’s just getting tougher. It’s disheartening … when you just want justice and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen,” Beckham said during a Zoom call.
In the wake of the Taylor news, Beckham, Browns receiver Jarvis Landry and coach Kevin Stefanski vowed Thursday to continue to fight social injustice and police brutality.
Guard Joel Bitonio said the Browns’ social justice committee met with Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams on Tuesday, and Stefanski said the Zoom meeting centering on how they can help the community also included city councilman Matt Zone of Ward 15.
“I think you try and channel that frustration into … finding a way for more positive things to happen to seek change and just stay on course,” Beckham said. “To feel as if you’re doing your part and there’s something genuine in your heart to want to seek change.
“It’s not something that’s going to change overnight. It’s not going to change in two days, it’s not going to change in a year. It’s something you have to keep chipping away at and I think that everybody plays a role in that.”
Asked if the lack of charges in Taylor’s death would strengthen his resolve, Landry said: “The fight will always continue. There’s no doubt about that. Until the whole world recognizes and sees what’s going on and stops turning an eye to it and stops just playing a part because it’s trending, I think that it will never be resolved.
“I think there’s a lot of people out there that don’t want to see it resolved and don’t care if it does or doesn’t get resolved. There’s so many people fighting for this, there’s so many people that look like me out there fighting for this. I know there’s a lot of people that don’t want to see change, don’t want to see the necessary things happen for equality or for Black minorities, period.”
Taylor, 26, a Black emergency room technician, was killed on March 13 when police in Louisville, Kentucky, executed a search warrant of her apartment. As the officers entered, her boyfriend fired a single shot and three white officers returned fire, which the grand jury determined was legally justified self-defense. Officer Brett Hankison, since dismissed from the force, was charged with wanton endangerment of Taylor’s neighbors.
In discussing the ruling, Beckham thought back to the comments of TNT analyst Chris Webber when the Milwaukee Bucks did not take the court for an NBA playoff game in response to the Kenosha, Wisconsin, police shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, a Black man left paralyzed from the waist down.
“He was like, ‘The trauma actually comes from the feeling of [being] defeated’ or for me being like, ‘Yeah, that was expected,’” Beckham said of Webber. “I think that’s the hardest thing to deal with … to have to accept that these types of things will happen. It’s truly sad, it really is. I don’t have the right words for it. I just pray that this world gets better, plain and simple. It could be such a beautiful place, but it isn’t.”
Landry called the grand jury’s decision “tragic.”
“It’s tragic how the system continues to fail … they see what’s going on, but they fail to go about it the right way or bring justice to all that was involved,” Landry said via Zoom. “It’s just a sad thing. I want to say that it comes by surprise, but it’s not a surprise, it’s been going on forever and this continues to show us the problem that’s here in America.”
Beckham has made voting his cause after revealing he had never voted in a recent conversation with Maverick Carter on Uninterrupted’s YouTube channel. Beckham said he’s becoming more vocal on social issues as he learns more about them.
“To me it felt brave to be able to admit to myself, the world, everybody, that it was my mentality … that my vote wouldn’t really matter,” Beckham said. “It allows someone else who’s in that same situation to understand it’s OK and you have an opportunity to correct your wrongs and going into the future your voice can actually be heard. There’s no better time than the present for your voice to be heard.”
Left guard Joel Bitonio said the Browns have not discussed the Taylor news collectively, but said the team’s social justice committee met on Tuesday with Williams and a few city councilmen.
“We got to discuss with them the steps they’re taking to work with the community and how we can help and those relationships that we want to try and build with Cleveland police and they want to build with the community,” Bitonio said.
Bitonio said the Browns may not share their feelings about the Taylor ruling as a group until next week, but Beckham hopes they can do something at Sunday’s home game against the Washington Football Team to remember her.
“I don’t know. I feel like there’s definitely a call there,” Beckham said. “We haven’t gotten to talk about it as a team yet. Discuss with the team and figure out a plan going forward.”