My favorite quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Dr. King led a civil rights movement emphasizing nonviolent protests to draw attention to the plight of African-American citizens and the atrocities committed against them due to racial discrimination.
I wonder what Dr. King would say about Colin Kaepernick and his NFL brethren who "took a knee" during NFL games. What many saw as a disrespectful gesture by Colin and others towards our country, our military and our flag could easily also have been interpreted as Colin's nonviolent gesture to draw attention to the plight of African-Americans who have wrongfully suffered and died at the hands of law enforcement who were steeped in racism and hate. Colin has stated that he did not mean any disrespect to the country, our military or our flag, the "take a knee" was his way, on a national stage, to draw attention to the plight of his African-American brothers and sisters who suffered at the hands of racial discrimination and who lacked a voice. I believe him.
What I found more troubling than Colin's "taking a knee" was the outpouring of hate, violence and racial tension caused by those who were offended by Colin's actions. What Colin actually proved, albeit unintentionally, is that racism is alive and well in this country. I have to admit I was shocked at the horrific, racially- motivated statements of hate and threats on You Tube videos, press statements, tweets and news coverage of protests by white Americans against blacks and those who support them-particularly those who supported Colin.
Now I have been a lawyer in Florida for over 30 years. I am not naive and I am not blind. I know racial discrimination still exists in this country in law enforcement, both internally and externally, in business and even in law. I also know that corruption exists in law enforcement agencies across the U.S., some in my own backyard and that this corruption aids those who use the badge as a shield against being held accountable.
I agree with Dr. King-racial discrimination, sexual harassment and discrimination, corruption, and violation of civil rights hurts all of us- not just those who are the victims. So I would answer my own question above with a resounding YES! I do believe that Dr. King and Colin are warriors for justice. And so am I and many of my fellow lawyers who fight for equality and against corruption.
Lest you think my views are myopic I need to disclose something else. I come from a family of law enforcement officers, some of which also served in the military. I know what it is like to watch your spouse leave for work and not know if they will come home safely. I know the long hours, thankless work, and stressful conditions under which the majority of men and women of law enforcement in this country go out every day and keep the rest of us safe -while putting their lives on the line. I admire and respect them.
However just like there are bad lawyers- there are also bad cops. No profession is immune from members with a lack of integrity or ethics. What Dr. King and Colin seek is what we all should want-equality as well as justice and accountability for all.
So on this day honoring Dr. King and his tireless efforts to do just that, I ask all Americans to take a second look before they judge a nonviolent protester and their motivation. Don't assume anything. STOP, LOOK and LISTEN to one another and let's all work together to stop the hateful racial rhetoric, expose corruption and wrongdoing in government at whatever level it exists, and work together as color-blind "Warriors for Justice." Cathy Lerman, The Lerman Law Firm, Fort Lauderdale, Florida