Virginia Bishop E.W. Jackson, an African-American who's known for his conservative political activism, has lambasted the NFL for allowing its players to "disrespect" the United States by protesting during the playing of nation anthem before games.
Jackson, who heads the nonprofit coalition of conservative black pastors called S.T.A.N.D. and runs Exodus Faith Ministries in Chesapeake, posted a video to his Facebook page on Monday to voice his "disgust" with players who protest during the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner" in order to shed light on police brutality against African-Americans.
"I want you to notice. Look very closely. I am black. I am an American of African descent. My great grandparents were slaves and then sharecroppers in Orange County, Virginia. But let there be no mistake. I love my country," Jackson, a Marine veteran and a former Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, said. "I am proud to be an American. I love that flag. I love our national anthem, and I am black."
"So this is not a black thing. This is a leftist thing. This is a racial obsession thing," he continued. "Trying to make this into a black/white thing, it is not. I can tell you, there are plenty of black people across this country who love our country, love our flag, and are disgusted by this display of anti-Americanism and hatred for our country and simply don't support it not one bit."
Jackson said if it were not for the "wonderful free market system of the United States of America," professional athletes would not have the opportunities they are afforded.
"You would not have millions of dollars, you would not live in a mansion, you would not drive Rolls-Royces and Lamborghinis, you would not be partying at these expensive night clubs and doing whatever else it is you do," Jackson asserted. "You can only do that because of the wondrous nation we have that has given more opportunity, more hope, more prosperity to more people than any nation that has ever existed in the history of mankind."
The 65 year old had particularly strong words for the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars players who took a knee or sat during the playing of the U.S. anthem before their game in London on Sunday and then stood for the playing of the United Kingdom's anthem.
"Those of you who won't stand for our flag or won't stand for our national anthem, who hate our country so much, just leave," Jackson demanded. "You sports figures have enough money. You can just leave. Renounce your American citizenship and go somewhere else. Go find the country that you think is so just and live there and leave us alone.
Although the anthem protest movement started in August 2016 with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protesting police violence against African-Americans, Jackson claims that "there is no epidemic of police brutality against black people."
"If you actually want to take a cold hard look at the data, the actual facts, there is no such thing," Jackson said. "There might have been in the 1950s, it might have been in the 1960s, but its not in 2017."
Jackson pointed to data that suggests twice as many white people are killed in police confrontations than black people each year.
As The Washington Post found via a real-time database launched in 2015 to track fatal police shootings, over 732 white people have been shot and killed by on-duty police officers during an 18-month timespan. Meanwhile, 381 of those killed by on-duty cops were African-American and 382 were of another race.
"Twice as many white people are killed in confrontations with police," Jackson said. "But you won't hear about that from the mainstream media because they are interested in pursuing this narrative of racial division."
Jackson argued that when there are over 2.7 million African-Americans arrested every year, just under 400 being killed in an 18-month time span is a minuscule percentage.
"I am not saying that no police officer has ever done anything wrong and that no police officer has ever behaved racially. I am not saying that," Jackson added. "I know better than that. What I am saying that is statistically, there is no epidemic of police brutality. There is epidemic of black-on-black crime and murder. That's the problem but you don't want to talk about that."
It should be noted that according to The Washington Post's data, a higher total percentage of African-Americans are killed by police than the percentage of white people killed by police officers.
"White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers," The Washington Post reports. "African-Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population."
However, Jackson reasons that the disproportionate number of African-Americans killed by police is due to a disproportionate number of African-Americans who are involved in violent crimes.
"Just look at the Bureau of Justice statistics. That's the fact," he said. "Black men commit a disproportionate amount of violent crimes. You might not like to hear that but it's the truth."
Jackson, a Trump supporter, continued by agreeing with President Donald Trump that NFL owners should fire players who protest the national anthem. He also said that he believes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should be fired. He also argued that it was not Trump who divided the country, "Colin Kaepernick and the idiots who followed him" did.
"I might not have expressed it quite that way, but I am glad somebody, and I am glad it was the president of the United States who stood up for what I am feeling," Jackson said of the president's remarks at the Luther Strange campaign rally in Alabama last week.
Although many who feel that the NFL anthem protest is disrespectful favor Trump speaking up for their beliefs, NFL players, including those who choose to stand for the national anthem, felt as if Trump's comments at last week's campaign rally in Alabama were a "direct attack" on their brotherhood.
"We felt, as many others did, that this was a direct attack on our brotherhood," Christian Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson said in an interview with ABC earlier this week.
"Even to imply that we don't have a right to express ourselves in any way, whether you agree or not, is something that we really took to heart," Watson added.