The Rev. Al Sharpton on Tuesday questioned Jerry Jones’ “plantation mentality,” and called for a meeting between civil rights leaders and ESPN after the network suspended sportscaster Jemele Hill for critical tweets about the Dallas Cowboys owner.
“We found the suspension of Jemele Hill to be outrageous at best and insulting in fact,” Sharpton told reporters outside the Upper West Side offices of ESPN and ABC.
“To suspend someone for tweeting their analysis of what Jerry Jones did and act as though that somehow desecrates the name of the company seems to us a bridge too far.”
A day earlier, Sharpton threatened to target the advertisers of ESPN and the NFL after the network said it was taking Hill off the air for two weeks for tweets the company said violated its social media policy.
Hill had gone online to complain after Jones vowed Sunday to bench any of his team’s players who refused to stand during the national anthem.
Hill suggested in a series of tweets Sunday night that fans who disagreed with Jones’ stance should target the team’s advertisers.
Weeks earlier she was warned about company policy after tweeting that President Trump was a “white supremacist.’
ESPN said in a statement Monday that Hill was suspended for not heeding that warning.
But Sharpton chided ESPN, Jones and the NFL for distracting fans from the original motive behind the national anthem kneeling protest.
“The issue here has been and continues to be racism and police brutality,” Sharpton said of the protest launched last year by Colin Kaepernick. The quarterback, who played last year for the San Francisco 49ers, has not been signed by a team this season.
“This has never been an issue of the flag,” Sharpton said. “This has never been an issue of the anthem or patriotism. It is about saying the flag ought to represent justice for all.”
Sharpton said Jones upped the ante with his threat to bench protesting players.
“Jerry Jones’ decision smacks of a plantation mentality,” Sharpton added. “Let us not forget Jerry Jones also took a knee with members of the team. In essence, what Jerry Jones is saying is you can bow if I tell you to bow and you can take a knee if I tell you to take a knee and you can take it with me. But if you want to do it on your own you will be off the field.”
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