BOSTON (CBS) — Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett has sat in protest this summer during the national anthem to show his displeasure with racial inequality in America. But now, Bennett says he experienced just how unjust this country can be for a black man.
Bennett posted on Twitter on Wednesday that after attending the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight in Las Vegas two weeks ago, he was walking back to his hotel in a group of several hundred people when a noise that sounded like gunfire sent the crowd scattering for safety.
“Las Vegas police officers singled me out and pointed their guns at me for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Bennett wrote.
Bennett said he complied with the police officer who told him to stay down on the ground.
“He placed his gun near my head and warned me that if I moved he would ‘blow my f—ing head off,'” Bennett wrote. “Terrified and confused by what was taking place, a second Officer came over and forcefully jammed his knee into my back, making it difficult for me to breathe. They then cinched the handcuffs on my wrists so tight that my fingers went numb.”
Bennett described the use of force as “excessive” and “unbearable.”
It wasn’t until Bennett had been sitting in a police car for “what felt like an eternity” that the police discovered his identity.
“They apparently realized I was not a thug, common criminal or ordinary black man but Michael Bennett, a famous professional football player,” he wrote.
TMZ obtained video of the arrest, though it appears to begin after the threats which Bennett said the police made.
Bennett’s activism has been well-publicized, with ESPN running a lengthy feature on him just this week.
“I have always held a strong conviction that protesting or standing up for justice is just simply the right thing to do,” he wrote. “This fact is unequivocally, without question why before every game, I sit during the national anthem — because equality doesn’t live in this country and no matter how much money you make, what job title you have, or how much you give, when you are seen as a “N—–,” you will be treated that way.”
He continued: “The system failed me. I can only imagine what Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Cherleena Lyles felt.”
Martellus Bennett — Michael’s brother who played for the Patriots last year and is now on the Packers — replied to the story on Instagram.
“The call that night was a crazy one,” Martellus wrote. “The emotion and the thought of almost losing you because of the way you look left me in one of the saddest places ever. I could hear the fear in your voice, the tears in your eyes as well your sprinting heart beat. I can’t imagine how the people who lost their loved ones felt when they got the call. A lot of people feel like it couldn’t happen to them because of their status, neighborhood (“that only happens in the hood”) or whatever, but in all honesty YOU could be next. I COULD BE NEXT. YOUR SON, DAUGHTER, BROTHER, FATHER, GRANDPRA, SISTER, COUSING could be next.”
Bennett is considering the filing of a civil rights lawsuit, among other legal options.