Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett was held at gunpoint by police after the McGregor-Mayweather fight
After a gunshot rang out at Drai's Beachclub & Nightclub in Las Vegas, just hours after the conclusion of the Mayweather-McGregor fight, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett was one of "several hundred people" fleeing the explosive sound and the fear of violence that followed.
According to Bennett, he was singled out by Las Vegas police, who ordered him to get onto the ground, threatening to "blow [his] f***ing head off" if he moved a muscle. A second officer drove his knee into Bennett's back, making it "difficult for [him] to breathe".
Bennett came out on Twitter yesterday to speak about the incident, and explain what had happened to him. The message he posted went insanely viral, racking up 300,000 likes and almost 200,000 Retweets.
The single caption, 'Equality', describes poignantly how Bennett felt at the time of the incident. He was "a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time". We do not know the shooter's description, but it was a horrifying thing to experience while fleeing the scene like everyone else in the crowd.
Bennett also tweeted several photos from Las Vegas police cameras, reportedly showing the defensive end on the ground with a police officer holding a gun over his body.
In this Tweet, he broke it down ever further, showing a series of photos, including one where the gun is pointed directly at his head.
It's a troubling incident for a time when black football players are taking more and more stances toward social consciousness in a divided America.
Bennett has been vocally supportive of former 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who faced intense criticism for staging peaceful and silent protests against the state of racial inequality in America. Bennett has joined Kaepernick in these protests and has remained seated for the national anthem at several games.
At the end of the incident, Bennett was released without charges, as the Las Vegas police realised that they had made a mistake. Still, the incident scarred him, and he waited long enough to get the video and the facts together before coming forward and explaining how he had been treated.
John Burris, who is Bennett's attorney, spoke openly about the situation:
"We think there was an unlawful detention and the use of excessive force, with a gun put to his head... he was just in the crowd. He doesn't drink or do drugs. He wasn't in a fight. He wasn't resisting. He did nothing more or less than anyone in the crowd."
Many popular Tweets supported Bennett's decision to go public with the abuse.
From Bennett's Twitter statement:
"I felt helpless as I lay there on the ground handcuffed facing the real-life threat of being killed. All I could think of was 'I'm going to die for no other reason than I am black and my skin color is somehow a threat'."
Bennett has said he is considering "all [his] legal options including filing a civil rights lawsuit for the violation of [his] constitutional rights".
Black men in America, particularly a six-foot-four black man like Michael Bennett, are frequently seen as imposing figures, and tend to be unfairly targeted for suspected criminal activity. We can only hope that putting a spotlight on these traumatic scenes will improve visibility, and show that someone out there is "watching the watchmen".