In an open letter that’s going viral, a police widow is sharing her relationship with a black Nike cap and why it’s been forever changed by Nike’s Colin Kaepernick campaign.
Sherry Graham-Potter is the widow of Tim Graham, a Pima County (Arizona) Sheriff’s Deputy. In a Facebook post, she posted a picture of the black cap and the story behind it.
“I want to have a conversation about this hat,” Potter wrote Wednesday. “It’s over 13 years old. I don’t remember when I bought it exactly, I don’t remember where I bought it. But what I do remember is why I wore it.”
“On August 10, 2005, I was a newlywed with two young sons. My husband Tim and I had toasted our one month anniversary the night before, and I was enjoying a rare evening to myself, catching up on reading and relishing the quiet. Until there was a knock on my door. I had no way of knowing that the small act of turning a knob was about to shatter my life into a million pieces,” she continued.
“I sat numb and in sheer disbelief as I was told that my husband, while in a foot pursuit and subsequent struggle with a suspect that ended up in the road, had been struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle. He took his last breath lying in the middle of the street. What I lost in that moment is indescribable. I had to watch his mother be dealt the most agonizing blow a parent can face, and I couldn’t comfort her because I was in my own hell. I had to find a way to gut my own children in the gentlest way possible, and tell them that this man they had come to love, who they looked up to, who cared for them as his own, would never walk through our door again.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever attended a police funeral, but watching grown men who’ve seen the absolute worst things a civilian can imagine, break down and sob over the casket of their brother is an image that never leaves you. The bagpipes haunt my dreams to this day, but it was the faces of my children, the innocence that abandoned them at such a tender age that brought me to my knees.”
As she “trudged zombie-like through our days” with her children, she realized she needed to do something. So she took up running.
“I had to move my body or I was going to crawl out of my own skin,” she wrote. “So I put on the only cap I had and I went for a run.”
“It was short, it hurt and it was ugly. But I felt, just for those few moments on that road, like a normal person. So I kept doing it. I put that hat on and I ran every day. Sometimes I had to stop and sit down because I was sobbing so hard. Sometimes I was so angry I ran until I thought I my heart would stop, sometimes I would just scream over and over again, but it still felt better than doing nothing.
“That black cap became a symbol to me, it is sweat stained and it’s shape is gone, the buckle in the back barely closes; but that hat represents my family’s rise from the ashes. It stands for the strength and the sacrifice we made loving a man who had a job that we all knew could end his life, every time he walked out that door. And it did. And I accept that.”
She wore it until the very morning she heard about the Kaepernick ad campaign.
“Colin Kapernick has the absolute right to protest anything he damn well pleases. I don’t dispute that for one second. My father, my husband and many, many friends have all served this country and were willing to fight for his right to kneel.
“But that right goes both ways,” she noted. “I also have a right to express my disgust at your decision to portray him as some kind of hero. What, exactly has Colin Kapernick sacrificed? His multi million dollar paycheck…? Nope, you already gave him one of those. His reputation? No, he’s been fawned over by celebrities and media alike. Funny, Tim Tebow was never called courageous when he knelt.
“This man, whose contempt for law enforcement fits him like a…sock, has promoted an agenda that has been proven false time and time again, in study after study. But facts don’t seem to matter anymore. This man has thrown his support behind divisive anti-police groups, and donated money directly to a fugitive from justice who escaped prison after killing a police officer. I question the judgement of anyone who would put someone this controversial and divisive at the head of an advertising campaign, but it isn’t my company to run.
“I don’t know if I’ll have he heart to ever get rid of this cap (sic), but I will tell you this, I’ll never purchase another Nike product as long as I live. You got this one wrong Nike, terribly, terribly wrong.”
She didn’t even mention how terribly wrong they got it: This was a man who supported an organization dedicated to the legacy of convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur. Not only was he willing to kneel in protest of cops, he was willing to support those who killed them.
If that heartbreaking letter and those facts aren’t enough to bring you to anger, I don’t know what will. Americans have to make sure Nike never lives this one down.
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