Sports figures & celebrities comment on Ferguson

by Joni B. Hannigan |

(REUTERS/Jean-Christophe Bott/Pool)Grammy award-winner Pharrell Williams (right) performs on the Stravinski Hall stage at the 48th Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux July 7, 2014.

FERGUSON, Mo. (Christian Examiner) -- NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley did not hold back last week when he called Ferguson looters "scumbabs" for destroying part of small-town America where a Missouri grand jury announced its decision to not charge Officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting Michael Brown.

Barkley joined other well-known black celebrities NFL player Benjamin Watson and Grammy award-winner Pharrell Williams who have commented on the controversial case and who have faced a barrage of comments, supportive and critical in the aftermath.

Speaking on "The Fanatic," a Philadelphia Sports radio show, Barkley told Mike Missanelli, the host, "There is no excuse for people to be out there burning down people's businesses, burning down police cars."

Barkley told the host, according to Breitbart: "We have to be really careful with the cops because if it wasn't for the cops we would be living in the wild, wild west in our neighborhoods. We can't pick out certain incidents that don't go our way and act like the cops are all bad."

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)Former NBA star Charles Barkley sits onstage as he is introduced as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame's Class of 2006 in Springfield, Mass. Sept. 8, 2006.

About the criticism, Barkley, in a follow-up interview on FM 97.5, Barkley told Missanelli, "Every black person knows if you don't kiss up to every black person you are going to be called an 'Uncle Tom' or a sell out."

Barkley said the Ferguson case is an example of "tribe mentality," with people jumping to conclusions before examining the evidence. He said about the police, "They're the last line of defense in the hood."

The day after the news broke about the grand jury's decision in the Ferguson case, Benjamin Watson, a tight end for the New Orleans Saints, wrote a detailed reflection on Facebook which went viral, receiving close to a million "likes," and was shared nearly half a million times.

Watson expressed frustration over what he says is the glorification of "these types of police citizen altercations" by pop culture, music, and movies, and, the promotion of "an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life."

Head of the "One More" foundation, which is committed to carrying the "hope and love of Christ" to the community, Watson said he is "fearful" because to those who do not know him, he represents a "threat." Because of that "I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt," he said.

Watson says he is "embarrassed" by the "looting, violent protests, and law breaking" at Ferguson that confirm, to some, stereotypes -- and perpetuate "inferior treatment."

The problem, Watson says, is not a "skin problem," but a "sin problem" that God has provided a solution for.

(Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY Sports)New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson (82) celebrates a touchdown in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome, Nov. 21, 2013.

Talking about his post on CNN, Watson was abruptly cut off and replaced by a multi-colored screen, according to a report in Townhall.com, when the cable network reportedly lost its signal following Watson's declaration, "Jesus Christ died for our sins."

Months ago, after a vdeio emerged of Brown robbing a convenience, Grammy Award-winning producer Pharrell Williams said in an interview with Ebony magazine he wondered why there weren't more discussions about Brown's "bullyish" behavior.

"It looked very bullyish; that in itself I had a problem with," Williams said in referencing the video showing Brown stealing cigarillos before he was fatally shot by Officer Darren Wilson.

Williams asked reflectively what in the young man's life "happened" that made the forceful "behavior OK."

"Why aren't we talking about that?" he asked, while at the same time saying Wilson should be held accountable and serve time.

Wiliams, whose comments later were considered controversial, said he believes President Barrack Obama should have visited Ferguson. "He didn't have to go and take a side; all he needed to do was show his presence and everybody would have straightened up," Williams told Ebony.

Noting economic disparity and how that affects blacks, Williams told Ebony, however: "We're going to start seeing that it's actually less about race and more about class in the future. ... After all, our commander in chief is Black, right?"

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