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(STAR-TELEGRAM) — About 100 people gathered at the Tom Landry statue outside of AT&T Stadium on Sunday to protest the police shooting deaths earlier this month of men in Arlington and Dallas and asked Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to join their movement.
The pastor-lead protest, which included Frederick Haynes, pastor of Friendship West Baptist Church, and Lee Merritt, the attorney for the family of Botham Jean, led a procession that included two hearses and caskets down Randoll Mill Road from east of Globe Life Park to one of the main points of entry for the Dallas Cowboys game Sunday night.
The mock funeral procession represented the two slain men, Oshae Terry, 24, and Jean, 26.
Haynes, who led a similar demonstration before a Cowboys game last fall, invoked Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott, who said during training camp that NFL games were the wrong venue to engage in social injustice activism.
“Mr. Jerry Jones has made a statement that he wants the Cowboys not to protest injustice. He wants the Cowboys to have their toes on the line [for the anthem],” Haynes said. “Mr. Jones, you’re the owner of America’s team, we want you to stand for what America stands for because there is something in that pledge of allegiance that says ‘one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’ ”
Haynes called on Jones to help the social injustice cause since he has forbidden his players from kneeling during the anthem. After his remarks, the group took a knee in solidarity with NFL players who have knelt during the anthem as a way of shining a light on social injustice.
“Since you told your players they cannot protest, use your platform now to speak out against this vile and vicious murder that took place,” he said. “Let us know that you’re not just concerned about making money with black bodies, but you’re concerned about the safety of all black bodies. Because guess what? We are Americans as well.”
Terry, 24, was shot by an Arlington police offer Sept. 1 as he driving away from a traffic stop. Jean, 26, was fatally shot Sept. 6 in his apartment by a off-duty Dallas police officer who mistakenly thought she had entered her own apartment and had encountered an intruder.
The group called on Dallas police officer Amber Guyger to be fired immediately and for the Dallas district attorney to charge Guyger with murder, not manslaughter.
“Manslaughter is an insult, not only to his legacy, but an insult to what happened that night,” Haynes said. “We’re calling for the Dallas police department to do everything that they need to do to reform that police department.”
Haynes thanked the Arlington police department for helping the group pull off the protest peacefully. The demonstration near the Landry statue lasted less than 30 minutes before the group marched back to their buses near Globe Life Park.
Merritt said the stadium was appropriate because NFL players began protesting police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem but their efforts were stopped by Jones and the Cowboys.
“This is not the first time we’ve had a tragic murder to take place, but the good news is we do believe in a God who is able to transform tragic murders into transformational movements,” Haynes said.