Former Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon is gearing up for his first full season as a member of the Denver Broncos. On Thursday, he joined the ESPN Madison radio show "The Jump Around" with Jim Rutledge—but not to discuss the upcoming year on the field.
Rather, it was to discuss the shooting of Jacob Blake by police on Sunday and relative topics to what has been a tragic week in his hometown of Kenosha.
A video that surfaced on social media showed—and an updated Wisconsin Department of Justice report states—that police shot the 29-year-old Blake seven times in the back after he walked toward his vehicle and opened its driver side door (the DOJ report identified that one officer “fired the weapon” alone). Protests started in Kenosha after the shooting, and professional athletes from the home-state Milwaukee Bucks led the way in halting the NBA playoffs since Wednesday. The Milwaukee Brewers also announced they would not play Wednesday evening.
When asked what his thoughts were when he first saw the video of the shooting of Blake by police, Gordon stated it was sad to see.
"It just shocked me, man, that after everything that we're trying to do, protesting, everything, at this point what’s getting across?," Gordon said. "It’s just like, are people even taking note? It's just sad to see."
Gordon added that "we're trying to do things the right way, and it just seems as if nothing is coming across good enough because we continue to see actions like that. It’s just sad, man. It’s just sad because you're putting Black people in a corner, and it's just like our hands are tied. Like what do you want to do at this point?”
Here is more from Gordon's interview with ESPN Madison.
On the comments or responses of some on Gordon's social media platforms. Does the running back just "brush them off" or is it disheartening?
“It's disheartening for sure, and it’s sad. I’ve seen some of the comments and I was like, ‘This is the problem.’ This is the problem. You try to find and justify a reason for shooting a man seven times in the back. I just don’t understand—in front of the kids, in front of his his family—when it's three guys there. It’s not like he’s putting up a fight or anything. It's just better ways to going about that than just pulling the trigger on a man.
“And then to see my community, and today we had a big discussion, a group discussion in front of the team, in front of the head coach. I wanted to go up there. I went up there to his office. I stood in front of the team today, and it just was very emotional for me. I love my community so much and I do so much, and I don't have to put everything I do for my community in the media, and I don't. It’s just the bond amongst us that we have, and I try to do my best and do what I can for them. To see a white kid gunning people down in the middle of the street—whether they were black, whether they were white, Muslim—it didn't matter to me. Shooting people down in the middle of the street, and then the cops offering him water, I just don't understand that, man.
“I’m so emotional because I have family that was out there. That could have been them. That could have been one of my family members getting shot in the back seven times. That could have been my family being shot in the middle of the street, one of my family, one of my friends and it was just so disheartening. I just saw it, and it hurts even more when it hits at home … and it's in your backyard and it's your people. It's just sad because at this point, it’s just like, ‘What can we do?’ We trying to do everything without conflict and violence. It's just some people aren't realizing it, and it's sad.”
On what the importance of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Milwaukee Brewers to commence halting sports to allow people to think about what's happening
“I think that was big, and hats off to those guys coming together as one, standing for something that's important, especially during this time on this earth. We all have a voice. We all have a voice, and the Bucks being who they are, that happening only a couple minutes from them. Them standing up and doing that, just that meant a lot for me—being from Wisconsin, just my family and my friends—they just don't know how much that moved people. That's just a small act that can become bigger, but even a small act like that impacted a lot of people including myself, so I'm happy that they came together as one. Black guys, white guys, wherever you're from, they all came together and did that for us ‘cause that goes a long way.”
On where Gordon hopes these athletes' movements go (voting, changing people's minds?)
“It's just trying to change people's mind at this point. One of our coaches, he talked and he said Martin Luther King tried to do this. It's just a battle we've been battling with for years. We might not see change, we just have to come down, just have an understanding that we might not see change in our generation. We might not see change in our generation, but like one of our coaches mentioned today, we'll have kids. I'll have kids, and hopefully the change can be for them.
“Things don't happen overnight. We can't get people to realize things overnight, but we have to take steps towards that. We just have to get people to understand because it’s a lot of … people that’s not of color, will never have to deal with some of the stuff that we have or had dealt with growing up. It just is what it is. But we just need more white, Caucasian people, just to ask questions if you don't understand.
“If we can't put it in a way for you to understand, we can find someone that can. It's real simple so you can get a real gist on everything. You can really feel how we feel and what we really go through. I think that's the biggest thing is just getting people to realize because you can see, like I said, with you retweeting things, you can see people’s comments. They're oblivious to what's happening. They just don't understand. In my sense, it's all about understanding, man, and we need to get more people to see that.”
Is Gordon afraid of the police, or are African-Americans who he knows that are afraid of the police? Is he afraid to be pulled over by the police?
“Hell yeah, I'm definitely afraid. The first thing I think of when I get pulled over is I probably say ‘Yessir’ about a million times. The crazy thing is I've met more good cops than I have bad in all reality, and I don't know if they're just good to me because I give them my license, and they realize who I am. I’d be scared, though. I'd be scared to make the wrong move. I do. I'm not blind to see what's going on. I see it, and I'd be nervous, but most of the cops that I've had an encounter with, they’ve actually been great guys. Nothing from what I've seen on social media, but that still doesn't take away from the fear when I get pulled over making the wrong turn or driving a little too fast or in a carpool [lane] or whatever the case may be, that I'm not afraid that if I make the wrong move, it might be my last move.”
On if there have been talks with parents or others of ‘This is how you need to act if the police come around' to ensure he would be safe
“Oh, for sure. You definitely had those talks as a kid with your parents. Be respectful. Don't say the wrong thing. Don't make the wrong move. They tell you to stop, put your hands in the air. Or if you see the cops come and go, that was one of the biggest things, run.
“It’s sad that you have to be taught that as a kid, but that's just what you have to deal with growing up. So it definitely was those conversations amongst me and my parents and my cousins. We've all had that sit down, and they'll all repeat and say the same exact thing that I'm saying so the conversation was definitely there. As you can see with the world being how it is now, it was a needed conversation.”
Ed. note: AllBadgers.com updated the article to include additional information and clarification from the updated Wisconsin Department of Justice report pertaining to the shooting of Jacob Blake.