Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins defended himself after the president of the Cleveland police union called him “pathetic” for wearing a t-shirt in support of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy who was killed by police while carrying a toy gun.
At his Monday media availability, Hawkins explained his reasons for wearing the shirt before Sunday’s Browns-Bengals game.
“To me, justice means the innocent should be found innocent. It means that those who do wrong should get their due punishment,” he said. “Ultimately, it means fair treatment. So a call for justice shouldn’t offend or disrespect anybody. A call for justice shouldn’t warrant an apology.”
Hawkins said he is not an activist, but the possibility that his two-year-old son, Austin, could end up like Tamir Rice motivated him to take a stand.
The first few minutes of the speech (via ESPN Cleveland):
“I was taught that justice is a right that every American should have. Also justice should be the goal of every American. I think that’s what makes this country. To me, justice means the innocent should be found innocent. It means that those who do wrong should get their due punishment. Ultimately, it means fair treatment. So a call for justice shouldn’t offend or disrespect anybody. A call for justice shouldn’t warrant an apology.
“To clarify, I utterly respect and appreciate every police officer that protects and serves all of us with honesty, integrity and the right way. And I don’t think those kind of officers should be offended by what I did. My mum taught me my entire life to respect law enforcement. I have family, close friends that are incredible police officers and I tell them all the time how they are much braver than me for it. So my wearing a T-shirt wasn’t a stance against every police officer or every police department. My wearing the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons to innocent people.
“Unfortunately, my mum also taught me just as there are good police officers, there are some not-so-good police officers that would assume the worst of me without knowing anything about me for reasons I can’t control. She taught me to be careful and be on the lookout for those not-so-good police officers because they could potentially do me harm and most times without consequences. Those are the police officers that should be offended.”
The union president said Hawkins should stick to sports and demanded an apology, adding, “It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law.”
In the most poignant moment of his nearly six-minute speech, Hawkins broke down while talking about his two-year-old son:
“As you well know, and it’s well documented, I have a 2-year-old little boy. The same 2-year-old little boy that everyone said was cute when I jokingly threw him out of the house earlier this year. That little boy is my entire world. And the No. 1 reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me. And my heart was broken for the parents of Tamir and John Crawford knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality.”
Here’s the full speech:
Here’s his two-year-old son, who is the cutest:
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.