While many celebrities have spoken out on social media about the Michael Brown shooting and its aftermath, one star's comments seem to have been particularly moving and have gone viral.
NFL player Benjamin Watson, a tight end for the New Orleans Saints, took to Facebook this week to express his thoughts about a St. Louis grand jury's recent decision not to bring criminal charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot the unarmed black 18-year-old in the city of Ferguson in August, claiming self-defense, as well as the racially charged unrest and commentary that followed.
"At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision," Watson, whose team took on the Baltimore Ravens, said on his page. "After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:
Watson, who is black, details 12 feelings and emotions that he has experienced and offers a multi-sided view of the issue in a 650-word post that has been shared by more than 366,000 people—almost three times the number of followers he has on Facebook.
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"I'M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes," he wrote. "I'M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn't there so I don't know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance."
The shooting had sparked scores of protests in the following weeks, with demonstrators rallying against what they said was racism, discrimination and use of excessive force by the police.
Scores of people took to the streets again in Ferguson after the jury's decision was announced on Monday. Several businesses were destroyed and looted, while a police squad car was set on fire. Officers fired tear gas and flash-bang canisters in a bid to disperse the crowd. Dozens of people were arrested.
"I'M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment," Watson wrote in his post.
Hundreds of people opposing the grand jury decision have since staged protests in cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Oakland, bringing traffic to a standstill in some areas. According to NBC News, few acts of violence were reported, while more than 300 arrests were made.
"I'M CONFUSED, because I don't know why it's so hard to obey a policeman," he added. "You will not win!!! And I don't know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace."
Check out Watson's comments in full below.
After Watson's Facebook post went viral, the NFL player shared several messages tweeted by supporters.
On Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, he thanked people on Twitter.