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Cam Newton speaks out against police shootings: 'It's embarrassing for things to keep happening'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton on Wednesday made a rare stand on social issues, spending a majority of his news conference addressing Tuesday's shooting in Charlotte that turned to racial unrest.

"I'm an African-American and I'm not happy how the justice has been dealt with over the years, and the state of oppression in our community,'' the NFL MVP said. "But we also as black people have to do right by ourselves. We can't be hypocrites.

"And 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 are being treated after they happen."

Late Tuesday afternoon, a black Charlotte police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, also black, in an apartment complex parking lot about 15 minutes from Bank of America Stadium.

The police said Scott exited his vehicle carrying a gun. Scott's family said he was unarmed and sitting in his car, reading a book, while waiting for his son to come home from school.

Protests involving hundreds on Tuesday night turned to violence. Rocks were thrown, police vehicles were vandalized and fires were set. Sixteen police offers reportedly were injured.

"It could have happened in Atlanta. It could have happened in Los Angeles. It doesn't matter,'' Newton said. "It's embarrassing for things to keep happening. And from what I do know we had an incident that happened in 2013 that had something to do with the police and it went to jury and whatever, it got washed away in time.''

Newton was referring to the 2013 fatal shooting of Jonathan Ferrell by Charlotte officer Randall Kerrick. Ferrell, who was black, was shot 10 times by Kerrick, who is white.

Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter. A judge declared a mistrial after the jury could not reach a verdict.

"My big thing is holding people accountable, no matter what the race, no matter what the gender is, no matter what the age is,'' Newton said. "We all have to hold each other accountable. And that is the world we are living in.

"When you get a person that does some unjust things or killing an innocent person, or killing fathers, or killing people that have actual families, that's real. I have a son and a daughter that I'm responsible for. How would it be if one day they come home and there's no more daddy?''

Newton has been criticized in the past for not taking a stand on such issues. He considers it a no-win situation.

But he spoke passionately and in depth on this one.

"I'm a black person, I'm an African-American ...,'' Newton said. "And as soon as you say something that we still have to do something right for blacks, you know, that's just, 'Oh, well he's this, he's that.'

"Yes, the police brutality is embarrassing to talk about, but when you sit here and list the names it's crazy to even think about how does this happen. How do police take a leave of absence and still get paid?''

Newton reminded there are a lot of black people "that don't do right by black people.''

"So you can't be a hypocrite and just say, 'Oh a white man or a white police officer killed a black man,'" Newton said. "Now that's still messed up and I'm not sitting up here and saying that's OK. I am saying we have to have a clear eye vision on both sides and it starts with everyone holding each other accountable and policing yourselves."

Newton said this understanding he is going to be critiqued on it.

"And if I don't say something it's, 'Oh you fake and flaw,''' Newton said. "I'm a firm believer of justice and doing the right thing and I can't repeat it enough about holding people accountable.''

Carolina coach Ron Rivera said Newton isn't this outspoken without thinking long and hard about what he has to say first. He complimented his quarterback for the way he addressed questions about the shooting.

He also said it was unfair for media to make Newton or any of his players spokespersons on the matter.

"I think it's very unfair,'' Rivera said. "I also think it's very unfair that people are looking to us for direction. I'm not sure if we're in a position to give people direction. That's kind of what we have the people we elected into certain positions should be doing more than us.

"The elected people need to learn to reach across and work together and get some things corrected and fixed very quickly. For me to sit here and talk about really what's happening without knowing, can't do it. I can't win.''

Rivera said if players want to discuss what happened with him, he's more than willing to listen. He reminded that eight years ago the country elected a black president to signal change.

"So maybe, instead of tearing up your own city, maybe instead of doing things the wrong way, we do things the right way.'' Rivera said. "I'm not sure if what happened last night was the right way. I just don't know.''

Rivera has steered clear of mixing politics and sports in the past. That was his stance last week when San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick continued his protest against social injustice by kneeling during the national anthem at Bank of America Stadium.

No Carolina players joined Kaepernick in his protest. Newton said he can't speak to whether Tuesday's shooting in Charlotte will change that.

But Newton did post a lengthy Instagram message on Wednesday as a show of support to Kaepernick and said that the two quarterbacks "will always be good."

"We all are different and have the right to fill anyway we want to ... and I salute him for standing (in this case kneeling) for something to if not to fix the issues; raise awareness of the issues," the post read. "I'm an African American. That's black and proud to the day I die and I try to make an impact in my community as much as I can, how are you making a difference? But it all goes for nothing if we all don't police ourselves and love one another no matter what the race is! We all have to do better and be held accountable for our actions (police included)... I'm not here to talk about race I'm here to talk about what's right!!! And we all have to do what's right no matter the race, age or gender!"

Newton had also previously posted his support of Kaepernick's cause on Facebook, saying "I salute my brother.''

"My job for me is to control anything and everything I can put my hands on,'' Newton said. "I salute Colin Kaepernick for what he stands for, but at the end of day I can make a stand in my own right.

"That is why I have a foundation and I have been trying to do anything and everything to bring the city of Charlotte, or whatever I am around, and impact it in a positive way. I'm hoping people see that and do the same thing."

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Panthers quarterback Cam Newton says he does not have all the facts on the shooting in Charlotte on Tuesday that has led to riots. In his world, he says there has to be accountability.
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