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Cam Newton

weighs in on Charlotte shooting after denying race issue previously

Cam Newton finds himself in a no-win situation on matters of race these days, something he mentioned on Wednesday when asked about the shooting death of Charlotte-area resident Keith Lamont Scott by police.

“I’m in a position now where if I say something, it’s going to be critiqued,” the Carolina Panthers quarterback said, “and if I don’t say something, then I’m flawed.”

He’s right — both sides can parse Newton’s words any way they want, and he typically is a lightning rod for criticism no matter what he says. After being open on some racial issues in the past, he has become more reserved and guarded most recently. The GQ interview that came out in August shocked many when Newton essentially said that America didn’t have a race problem.

On Wednesday, he did, however, offer his candid (if not carefully chosen) thoughts about what was happening in his community — a shooting death that has grabbed the national spotlight.

“I’m a firm believer of justice and a firm believer of doing the right thing, and I can’t repeat enough about just holding people accountable,” Newton said. “I’m an African-American. I am not happy with how justice has been kind of dealt with over the years.

“But we also, as black people, have to do right by ourselves. We can’t be hypocrites. I say that on one voice and also another voice that when you go public, or when things happen in the community, it’s not the fact that things are happening; it’s the way they’re being treated after they’re happening.”

Newton cut to the core of what a lot people are wondering: Are police officers treated the same way by the justice system when it comes to bringing charges and/or convicting police offers who kill civilians, as a civilian would if he was the one holding the gun?

Beyond that, Newton touched on the effects of such a shooting, something that hit home for him as a father.

“When you get a person that’s doing unjust things or killing an innocent person or killing fathers, or killing people who have actual families, that’s real. I have a son and a daughter that I’m responsible for. So how would I be if one day they come home and there’s no more daddy?”

But before you read this as Newton judging the case before it’s been tried, he was sure to make note that he didn’t have enough information yet on the Scott shooting to say who was right and wrong. And this case, although it involves a police officer killing a black citizen, might not be like other stories promulgated in the recent news cycle in that the officer was black and that Charlotte police have claimed Scott was armed and warned multiple times to stand down, even if some witness accounts didn’t indicate that the victim made any threatening gestures.

Still, Newton isn’t completely sitting on the sideline on this story and is lending his voice — and his position — he says to help make a difference.

“I want to bring unity, and football gives me that opportunity,” Newton said.

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