Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin on Thursday said he is demanding that all 50 state attorneys general review police training policies.
Continuing efforts by Seahawks who are using their media platforms to call for social change, receiver Doug Baldwin on Thursday said he is demanding that all 50 state attorneys general ask for reviews of training policies for police and law enforcement.
Baldwin made the request during a roughly three-minute statement that led off his meeting with the media.
On Wednesday, teammate and fellow Stanford grad and longtime friend Richard Sherman began his news conference with a two-minute statement in which he said more needs to be done to get the message across that recent police actions against African-Americans are unacceptable.
Baldwin also took questions on the podium and in the locker room. He elaborated on his plans, saying he has had discussions with former King County Sheriff Sue Rahr, who is the head of Washington’s criminal justice training commission and in 2014 was named to a presidential task force on building trust between police and communities throughout the country.
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“I’ve read up on her and how she is changing the warrior mentality to guardians of the community,” Baldwin said later in the locker room, adding that “it’s as simple as you have a state police academy where all police officers have to go through their training, so we have to change those training policies to reflect how those officers have to handle crisis and de-escalating situations when they are out in the community.”
Baldwin was earlier among the leaders in the Seahawks’ decision to stand and interlock arms during the anthem, a move made in part as solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers and Seahawks play Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Baldwin said incidents such as police shootings this week that resulted in deaths in Charlotte, N.C., and Tulsa, Okla., required that even more action be taken.
“The conversation has gotten to the point where, yes, the situation that’s upon us right now and that’s going on in our country is devastating,”Baldwin said. “But now it has to reach a point of intolerable. We cannot tolerate this. Lives are being lost, and there’s questions that need to be answered and the people deserve an answer. I think that’s where we’re at right now.”
Shortly after Baldwin’s statement, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson tweeted that he had read what Baldwin said and that “I’ll be reaching out soon to see if you’d like to sit down and chat.” Baldwin later responded: “I’d love to. I like what our state is doing with changing the culture! We will be in touch!”
Here is the text of Baldwin’s statement:
“Hello. First and foremost, my health is good. Barring any setbacks I will be playing in Sunday’s game. The 49ers, we know there’s new coaches, new defense, scheme, blah, blah, blah. I want to actually get to what I want to talk to today. Obviously we know the national attention is what’s going on in our communities and in our society right now, specifically pertaining to black people, minorities, and how they’re being treated by some members of our law enforcement across the country. You’ve seen the protests. You’ve heard the message. And now I think it’s time for us to hold each other accountable, and when I say hold each other accountable I mean to the preamble of the United States Constitution, which states, and I quote, that ‘in order to form a more perfect union, we must establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility.’
“In 2014, Tamir Rice was shot and killed. This prompted a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, which discovered, and I quote, that ‘officers did not effectively de-escalate situations either because they did not know how or did not have adequate understanding of the importance of deescalation encounters before resorting to force.’ This prompted the Ohio state attorney general to eventually call for a review of police training policies.
“This is not an isolated incident. This is not an isolated conversation. This is not isolated just to some specific parts of our country. We see that now. And the advancement of technology has proven that, from the video of Rodney King in 1991 to the numerous incidents that we now have visual evidence of today. Now this is not an indictment of our law enforcement agencies, I just want that to be clear. We know that there’s a select few — a very minute few — of law enforcement who are not abiding by those laws and policies. However, we also know that there are laws and policies that are in place that are not correcting the issue that we have in our society right now.
“So as an American, a 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 to eliminate militaristic cultures while putting a higher emphasis on de-escalation tactics and crisis management measures.
“With that being said, I believe that the greatest power we have is in our people. And with great power comes great responsibility. And I’ve said this before, and as Martin Luther King famously said that, ‘We must not become a culture, a society, that is more concerned with order than justice.’ And I believe that if we are more concerned with order than justice, then we’ll lose both.
“That’s where I stand. That’s my statement, and now I’ll be opening up to questions.”
The Seahawks have referred to that action as building bridges. Baldwin said that he and what the team calls the Building Bridges Task Force have had some meetings with local officials — he has said previously he wants to meet with Seattle mayor Ed Murray.
“I will not say who we met with but I will just say it was a very enlightening and eye-opening meeting,” Baldwin said of a meeting he said occurred Tuesday.
Baldwin also said some Seahawks players “will be reaching out soon” to football players at Garfield High who kneeled during the anthem last week and plan to do so again Friday.
Baldwin said more than making statements, the time now calls for athletes to try to make real change, which is why he is making the demand of a review of police policies.
“Right now, like I said, we’re focused on the follow through,” Baldwin said. “You’ve heard the message, you’ve seen the protest and now we’re working on the follow through. Again, we’re only a small group, a small portion of the population, and there are people out there that have greater power than we do. Our voice is still going to continuously to be heard, but at the same time we need those that have the power to makes the changes and act.”
Baldwin also noted that his father, Doug Baldwin Sr., worked for 35 years with the Pensacola (Fla.) Police Department.
“My father’s a police officer, and he’s told me numerous times about his training and how they’ve gone through what they call verbal judo, which is essentially them trying to de-escalate the situation,” Baldwin said. “From what I understand and from what he’s told me and his experience in homeland security is that that method of training is not consistent throughout the entirety of the United States. And that’s an issue. When you see numerous instances like this happen, and again, you don’t know all the context, but you’re asking questions.”
Seahawk defensive lineman Michael Bennett followed Baldwin to the stage and while he did not make his own statement instead taking questions, he said he supported Baldwin’s efforts.
“I agree with everything that Doug is saying,” Bennett said. “I think at this point in American history there is so much going on and you look at the situation that a lot of people are put in and you look at and we wonder what is going on and why is this happening, so there are so may questions that people are asking, people just want to try to find solutions and how can people be seen as human beings and not as their color.”