Slander does not care if it is true or false, only that it is heard by sympathetic ears.
Michael Bennett, one of the most ardent and recognizable NFL voices to speak out against the everyday oppression of Black people in America, had revealed himself as one of those “uppity Negroes” to NFL owners, coaches and fans alike when he began protesting by sitting during the national anthem back in 2017 while still a member of the Seattle Seahawks.
Bennett was in Houston on February 5, 2017, to watch his brother Martellus Bennett win a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. It is there where he was alleged to have assaulted a 66-year-old paraplegic security guard while making his way to the field to celebrate with his brother.
As ludicrous as that claim may seem, those who already had a bad image of Bennett in their minds needed no convincing as to the validity of the allegations. To them, they were true.
However, unlike most everyday Americans, Michael Bennett has access to some of the best lawyers that money can buy, which is significantly more than, say, a journalist could buy.
One of the truly insidious ways that a system of oppression looks to defend itself is to impulsively discredit anyone it believes is a threat. At 6ft 4in and weighing 275 pounds, New England Patriots defensive end Michael Bennett has been a threat to opposing quarterbacks ever since he stepped onto the football field back in 2009. But some attempted to use the aesthetics of his size and color against him.
His views and words on police brutality and oppression in America had significantly more weight to them after he was arrested by the Las Vegas PD in an incident where he was handcuffed and, according to him, had a gun pointed at his head.
In September 2017, Bennett revealed to the world how helpless he felt during his encounter with the Las Vegas Police, claiming he was racially profiled and the victim of excessive use of force.
“I felt helpless as I lay there on the ground handcuffed facing the real-life threat of being killed,” the Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman wrote. “All I could think of was ‘I’m going to die for no other reason than I am black and my skin color is somehow a threat.’ ”
Indeed, we knew that was only the beginning.
LVPD continued to try to besmirch the image of Bennett, even using his protest stance as a backhanded way of saying he deserved what he got.
Following the match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, police officers swiftly moved through the Cromwell Hotel & Casino after getting reports of an active shooter.
Bodycam footage released by the department shows cops shouting “everybody out,” and instructing crowds to “move it!” Bennett fled with the rest of the crowd, by an officer saw HIM as the threat in an active shooter situation. Imagine how dangerous that could have been?
“There’s one running! There’s one running!” an officer can be heard shouting. Police gave chase and one officer wondered aloud, in an apparent reference to Bennett, “Did he have a gun?”
History and video footage would show Bennett did not, in fact, have a weapon. He’s a bit lucky to be alive if we’re being completely honest.
Michael Bennett later claimed the arresting officer placed a gun to the back of his head and said ‘I’ll blow your f—ing head off’.
Police, however, had maintained that it was Bennett who was at fault, despite the fact that he was apparently moving with the crowd.
In March 2018, his name was put in a bad light yet again. It didn’t matter if he did what he was accused of. It only mattered that his name was put out there as someone who “may have” assaulted a 66-year-old wheelchair-bound woman.
Thankfully, prosecutors appear to have used a bit of common sense in deciding to drop the charges against Michael Bennett.
On Wednesday, prosecutors dismissed a felony assault charge against Bennett after reviewing footage from the day in question and being unable to prove with certainty that a crime was committed.
While congrats and blessings to Bennett are in order, most of us (black men) wouldn’t have gotten off so lightly in either situation.