Cleveland Browns Running Back Isaiah Crowell Removes Post of The Slitting Of A Police Officer’s Throat After Public Outcry [UPDATED]

Isaiah_Crowell_2015Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell, 23, is under fire for a grotesque image posted on Instagram showing a man dressed in all black slitting the throat of a police officer. It is a disgusting image that few of us would have even contemplated showing to another person, let alone posting on social media. Yet, Crowell posted the image with a statement “Mood: They give polices all types of weapons and they continuously choose to kill us…(hashtag)Weak” After an immediate outcry, Crowell removed the image and insisted issued a long statement that sounded like it was the product of a room of panicked NFL and Browns lawyers. The question is now the response of the NFL to the posting.  Update: Notably, the first black Miss Alabama was suspended on Tuesday for calling Micah Johnson a “martyr” for killing the five police officers.

Warning the image below is graphic and disturbing.  


In fairness to Crowell, this picture has gone viral and was not his creation. However, he saw it and liked it enough to post it.

Here is the posting:

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Crowell posted the image after Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana were fatally shot by police. It was before five police officers were killed in Dallas. However, none of that is an excuse for the posting of this type of horrific, hateful image. Nevertheless, a statement was issued for Crowell that was markedly different in tone and message:

“Last week was an emotional and difficult week as we saw extreme acts of violence against black men across our country as well as against police officers in Dallas. I posted an image to Instagram in the midst of that emotion that I shouldn’t have and immediately removed it. It was an extremely poor decision and I apologize for that mistake and for offending people. My values and beliefs do not match that image.

I am outraged and upset by the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile along with so many others. I am also outraged and saddened by the attacks in Dallas and the deaths of the five 5 honorable police officers (Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa) who were providing protection while trying to keep peace. We have to be better as a society, it’s not about color, it’s about what’s right and wrong. I was very wrong in posting that image. Every single life matters, every death as a result of violence should be treated with equal outrage and penalty.”

Forgive me if I am not satisfied by that spin. There are no circumstances where the use of an ISIS-like image of killing police would be understandable or justified. Yet, there was a notable lapse in a response from the NFL or the Browns. Pray tell, if the posting showed the beating of woman or killing of a minority, would there be such an initial ambivalent response?

Crowell has a first amendment right to make a complete ass out of himself. However, the team and the NFL have contractual rights to separate themselves from an athlete who feels the necessity of posting images of the slitting of the throats of police officers. When crowds or fans threaten Crowell, he appears to have little thought of the line of officers protecting him. Instead, he wants his large following on social media to see an image of a helpless police officer having his throat slit.

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It is certainly true that the third-year running back led the Browns in rushing last season with 706 yards. However, for many of us, this posting says more about the man than each of those yards. After Johnny Manziel, the Browns appear to have a knack for selecting players with a wealth of talent and a paucity of maturity. That is not unique of course but the NFL should remember that that thin blue line around their stadiums and free golf tournaments are wearing the same uniform as the man bleeding out in Crowell’s posting. It is the same uniform worn by Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa.

Assuming that the NFL or the Browns eventually act, what do you think should be the punishment? Does this warrant the loss of a contract or suspension in your view?

70 thoughts on “Cleveland Browns Running Back Isaiah Crowell Removes Post of The Slitting Of A Police Officer’s Throat After Public Outcry [UPDATED]

  1. Steve….
    I don’t know if the NFL has the kinds of specific policies in place regarding blatant racism as it does re domestic violence.
    I’m not sure that the NFL or the Cleveland Browns are obligated to cite specific contractural language to take action in this case.
    I have an idea that if there were a White Klansman in the NFL publishing material tolerating lynching, there would be no concerns about if he did it on “his own time”, or from an NFL locker room.
    And I don’t think we’d be seeing the same mealy mouthed “qualifiers” about “free speech”, etc.; the reaction from the league, the team, and the public would likely be unequivocal.
    As reflected it some of the comments here, blatant racism from some sources brings a lot of weak excuses for that source out of the woodwork.

    • tnash – having tutored college athletes, I can tell you that if someone had been a member of the KKK and been stupid enough to spout it, they would have been beaten to a pulp by the entire team, of all colors. However, I have seen implicit racism by black players.

  2. The contracts usually have a morals clause that this would appear to radically violate. He should be terminated ASAP. Sorry, but there is no excuse for this outrageous post and he should have to pay the consequences. The fact is that the NFL is in the entertainment business, and bad actors make the business suffer which endangers the welfare of the whole enterprise. I am sure his lawyer or agent TOLD him about the contract provisions, so his ignorance is not an excuse. Goodbye to this trash.

  3. Steve,
    Considering his role model position as a pro football player, his reposting of the horrific picture could be considered an incitement to violence, couldn’t it?

    If the picture had shown a police officer as the terrorizer and a black man as the victim, the response would be quite different. Such a picture would not be supporting violence, it would be one of anguish. (It be hyperbole since ISIS is far worse, but still a more powerful, sympathy-evoking statement.)

    I think reprimanding him, and maybe having him break bread with the police officers who guard the stadium would help temper his (and others’) perspectives on the police. There needs to be more olive branches exchanged to help calm things down.

    • Prarie Rose: Don’t mention anything that sounds like a compelled apology, or KCFleming may have a coronary.

      I have no problem with him being fired if some nebulous contract provision mandated he act like a boy scout, and I can’t believe the NFL wouldn’t have required such a provision. After all, they have an image to upkeep while they encourage players to turn opponents brains into musk melon.

      Just the same, white folks have no dog in this fight. We’re talking about vestiges of slavery which have resulted in the killing of many, many innocent human beings based on an economic model which needs slaves and the minions who follow that model without blinking an eye.

      The dude’s pissed off, as was that guy who was just bombed into pieces in a parking garage in Dallas. So, let’s give him some respect for having red blood enough to speak. It wasn’t the voice I’d like to hear, but it was his voice.

  4. Prarie Rose writes, “Considering his role model position as a pro football player, his reposting of the horrific picture could be considered an incitement to violence, couldn’t it?”

    I suppose it could, but beyond a reasonable doubt? I don’t know. If he’d written, “This is what you have to do to cops” I’d think that’d probably leave no doubt.

    What do you think?

  5. Steve,
    “I suppose it could, but beyond a reasonable doubt? I don’t know. If he’d written, “This is what you have to do to cops” I’d think that’d probably leave no doubt.”

    True, that would be hard to prove. Yet, if some nutjob does what that picture depicts after having viewed it on the player’s site, then wouldn’t he have some culpability?

    • Prarie Rose writes, “if some nutjob does what that picture depicts after having viewed it on the player’s site, then wouldn’t he have some culpability?”

      How would you prove from the picture alone the necessary element of the defendant’s guilty mind (mens rea) associated with the simple act of posting it? At trial, he’ll just sit there and say nothing. There has to be more than evidence of commission of a crime than just the picture it seems to me.

  6. The level of punishment levied by the team will be inversely proportionate to the amount of revenue he generates. I suspect the team will just do nothing, hoping the matter goes away with his “apology”.

    Regardless of the sorrow he claims, the content of his character remains unchanged.

  7. Steve,
    “Don’t mention anything that sounds like a compelled apology”

    I dislike compelled apologies; apologies ought to be genuine. Perhaps if he interacted on a personal basis with the police officers who guard the stadium, broke bread with them, talked about perspectives and concerns like grown-ups–a meeting of minds…then, I would hope, he would issue a genuine apology.

    He is a role model and is expected to behave as such, so if he gets fired because of violating his contract, so be it. Nonetheless, a tempered response may still be the best course during this time of strong emotions.

    I still do not understand why you assert this:
    “Just the same, white folks have no dog in this fight. We’re talking about vestiges of slavery which have resulted in the killing of many, many innocent human beings based on an economic model which needs slaves and the minions who follow that model without blinking an eye.” Why don’t white people? Why only blacks?

    Everyone has a dog in this fight. We are all people. The racial divisions benefit TPTB. We are all caught up in the march towards neo-feudalism and a police state.

    What do you think?

    • Prairie Rose – people forget that white people (mostly Irish) were slaves in the New World. Or that it was black Muslim that were capturing the blacks who were being turned into slaves.

    • Prarie Rose writes, “I still do not understand why you assert this:
      ‘Just the same, white folks have no dog in this fight. We’re talking about vestiges of slavery which have resulted in the killing of many, many innocent human beings based on an economic model which needs slaves and the minions who follow that model without blinking an eye.’ Why don’t white people? Why only blacks?

      “Everyone has a dog in this fight. We are all people. The racial divisions benefit TPTB. We are all caught up in the march towards neo-feudalism and a police state.

      “What do you think?”

      We’re all people, but a lot of whites have even scratched the surface of sensibilities toward the long-lasting results of atrocities committed by whites. We talk of military servicemembers returning home with PTSD, we complain how the system is rigged, we can’t get ahead without giving up morality, and so forth. African-Americans have been ruminating over these issues for literally dozens of generations without solace. Many still believe there’s no way out of the physical and emotional scars of the slave class. I see it every day of the week as I walk passed the homeless and crack addicts on my way to and from work. When some of the stronger act out because the atrocities continue, we condemn them for doing what any of us might have done in their shoes. I’m just trying to walk a day in them.

  8. Steve,
    “There has to be more than evidence of commission of a crime than just the picture it seems to me.”

    Yeah, I guess you’re right. He would probably feel guilty, if such a thing happened, though.

  9. Steve,
    “Many still believe there’s no way out of the physical and emotional scars of the slave class.”

    Learned helplessness. What is the best way to correct that belief?

    Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. DuBois, and others would say there is a way out.

    “When some of the stronger act out because the atrocities continue, we condemn them for doing what any of us might have done in their shoes.”

    “When some of the stronger act out”–that is an odd turn of phrase, almost objectifying people or treating them as helpless, voiceless children. I cannot believe you meant it that way. The phrasing is odd to my ears, though.

    Acting out is what children do. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not have condoned such actions; he advocated nonviolent resistance and peaceful protests. Police brutality is not limited to blacks; it affects every race. We should ALL stand up in peaceful protest against the militarization of the police and the rising police state, while thanking the officers who protect our right to peacefully protest. I realize there are other elements to the rising tensions, but I did not want to get too far off topic.

    “I’m just trying to walk a day in [their shoes].”
    What do you see when you try to walk in their shoes?

    • Prarie Rose writes, “Learned helplessness. What is the best way to correct that belief?”

      I imagine you’d make a wonderful therapist for Wounded Warriors over at Balboa Naval Medical Center across the canyon from me.

      “When some of the stronger act out”–that is an odd turn of phrase, almost objectifying people or treating them as helpless, voiceless children. I cannot believe you meant it that way. The phrasing is odd to my ears, though.”

      Have you ever seen a dog that’s been beaten too much? It takes pleasure in things that insulated animals don’t. Maybe it is, as you say, ‘learned helplessness,’ but a path of least resistance. You have lots of nerve saying they should overcome when you’ve never experienced it. Many of these people are not far removed from sharecropper life and given some crap logic about breaking their backs to get out of the hole when their backs are already broken. We all know why. It certainly wasn’t learned helplessness that got them there. It was you and me. They’re the survivors, not you and me, and in manner you cannot accept. It’s that simple.

  10. Paul Schulte writes, “Prairie Rose – people forget that white people (mostly Irish) were slaves in the New World. Or that it was black Muslim that were capturing the blacks who were being turned into slaves.”

    One of my maternal grandmothers was black Portuguese, born in 1911 in a pot on a Hawaiian sugarcane plantation in the village of Pepeekeo on the big island of Hawaii. Her parents had each separately – and before meeting one other – emigrated from the two Portuguese archipelagos (Madeira and Azores) at the turn of the century when the US expressly sought labor from those two sugarcane-producing areas to work in the corporate fields after the US overthrew the Hawaiian kingdom and made it a US territory. In 1917, after a decade of field labor, my great-grandfather, Caetano De Pontes, relocated the family, now with three children (all of whom were automatically granted citizenship by statute) and his wife, Maria, who was then pregnant, to Oakland (where I was born), no doubt to get out of the fields.

    Unfortunately, white prejudice against black Portuguese was overt at that time, as it continues to be against African-Americans now. Caetano, 31 years of age, was literally dead within the week, his skull crushed in a so-called industrial accident on his first day on the job in a foundry. My grandmother was six at the time, and my great-grandmother had three mouths to feed, and a fourth on the way. My grandmother to her dying day thought he’d been murdered, and she always told me I should never to tell anyone I’m Portuguese but that I’m Danish like my maternal grandfather.

    We all have stories to tell. However, that the Irish (and nearly half of my ancestry is Irish), who were certainly lower in the caste system you espouse than others, were slaves or that black Africans marketing their brethren somehow reduces the effect of skin color in this racist society is white sophistry. Although you’ve mentioned you’re a former high school history teacher, your perception of history is armchair and removed.

    • Steve – a couple of weeks ago I went to a lecture on the slave trade to Brazil. Besides blacks from West Africa, they also enslaved Irish that they needed for iron working. Vikings enslaved the Irish and sold them thoughout their know world, including the Turkish Empire. Of course, the English have been enslaving the Irish since the 1200s.

      • Paul writes, “the English have been enslaving the Irish since the 1200s.” Right, and the Irish resent it, some violently, to this day.

        Irish immigrants to the US were enslaved where? Just as any ethnic group, they lived in Irish communities to survive socioeconomic disparity. There likely was contractual servitude for many, but you’ll have to prove the Irish were chattel owned by anyone here.

        The bulk of the Irish diaspora came after John Calhoun had threatened South Carolinian secession during the Jackson Administration. That was perhaps a century and a half after the Atlantic slave trade from Africa began.

        Try to imagine how African-Americans feel. I would think it humiliating to any African American that you equate the two groups.

  11. Steve,
    “Prairie Rose writes, “Learned helplessness. What is the best way to correct that belief?”

    “I imagine you’d make a wonderful therapist for Wounded Warriors over at Balboa Naval Medical Center across the canyon from me.”

    No need for the snark. You said, “Many still believe there’s no way out of the physical and emotional scars of the slave class.” This portion: “Many still believe there’s no way out”. To feel that there is no way out and there is nothing that the individual can do to change the situation is learned helplessness. It calls for compassion. I am asking, what is the best way to correct a person’s sense of learned helplessness?

    “You have lots of nerve saying they should overcome when you’ve never experienced it. Many of these people are not far removed from sharecropper life and given some crap logic about breaking their backs to get out of the hole when their backs are already broken. We all know why. It certainly wasn’t learned helplessness that got them there. It was you and me. They’re the survivors, not you and me, and in manner you cannot accept. It’s that simple.”

    Talk about assumptions! You know nothing of me. Grew up poor, spent time on welfare, broken family, lived with a mother who did her best but suffered severe mental illness, nearly got put in foster care, molested. Sorry to disappoint, my mother was not a drug addict and I was not physically abused.

    I also refuse to be blamed for everything going wrong in someone’s life.

    Broken families, abuse, ignorance–I did not cause it and neither did you. Such things are hurting poor white and hispanic families, too, not just blacks. Do I reach out and try to uplift others? Yes, as we all should.

    How best to solve these cultural malignancies? Should all mothers & fathers at hospital maternity units go through a parenting class, including a section on good nutrition? Should people have their SNAP card amount increased but only be allowed to buy real food so that they get good nutrition? Should property taxes be collected at a state level and allotted equally between school districts? Should at-risk kids when they get in trouble at school (terrible grades, fighting) get paired with a Big Brother/Big Sister–a mentor? Should prisoners be required to get remedial education and be required to read so much per week as part of their sentence so they leave prison better educated than when they went in? Should prisoners’ health by handled in a more holistic manner–mind, body, and spirit, as part of their remediation to decrease the chances of recidivism?

    Everyone has choices to make in life. I did not make their choices for them. A black friend of mine made very different choices than most of his family. He is college-educated despite surmounting a very difficult childhood and can barely interact with his extended family because they treat him as a traitor or a sell-out, that he’s “acting white”. That is an attitude that can only be changed from within.

    “They’re the survivors, not you and me, and in manner you cannot accept. It’s that simple.”
    I refuse to accept violence as an appropriate response.

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