Faith Ekakitie is a 290-pound black man from Iowa who is a defensive end on a local football team. The football player says he was out playing the popular game Pokémon GO when he had his first experience where he “truly feared for his life” as “four gun barrels” were pointed at his face by police officers. Ekakitie says that fear was perpetuated by the media and that he hopes his experience and perspective will help others “unlearn prejudices.”
The Daily Mail reported that Ekakitie was playing Pokémon GO in a local park when he was approached by multiple police officers. The man says that he was singled out because he looked like a bank robbery suspect that had fled the scene of the bank heist just minutes earlier. The football player explains things first from his own perspective. He says it was the first time he ever “feared for his life” and that was confused and scared when police officers surrounded him with their weapons drawn.
“Today I was surrounded and searched by approximately five Iowa City Police Officers. My pockets were checked, my backpack was opened up and searched carefully, and I was asked to lift up my shirt while they searched my waistband. Not once did they identify themselves to me as Iowa City Police officers, but with four gun barrels staring me in the face, I wouldn’t dare question the authority of the men and woman in front of me. This is what happened from my point of view.”
While the narrative starts off sounding like the anthem of many Black Lives Matter protests, an unarmed black man surrounded by police and held at gunpoint simply because he looked like a robbery suspect. Ekakitie goes further by providing a narrative from the police officers standpoint. The football player says that things looked very different from the police officers’ point-of-view.
Faith says that he had just arrived to the park to play Pokémon GO and put in his ear buds to listen to music as he played. He says the music was up so loudly that he could not hear what was happening around him and he was focused on finding nearby Pokémon. Therefore, when police officers approached him from behind, he did not hear the group behind him identify themselves as Iowa City Police Officers and did not hear their commands for him to turn around slowly with his hands up. He says that he had no idea the police officers were behind him so he continued moving forward and even reached into his pocket for his phone.
When Faith reached for his phone, police drew their weapons as they had been told that just a few miles away an armed bank robbery suspect had fled the scene. The man was described simply as a large black man wearing all black wearing something on his head. This description matched Faith Ekakitie perfectly and so when the football player reached towards his pocket, police immediately feared he may be going for a weapon.
The football player says things could have went south very quickly and he could have been a statistic, but that he is thankful for the Iowa Police Department handling a very sensitive situation very professionally.
“From the police officers point of view, all they knew was that a bank had just been robbed less than ten minutes ago. The suspect was a large black male, wearing all black, with something on top of his head and the suspect is armed. As they drive past an Iowa City park that was less than 3 minutes away from the bank that was just robbed, they notice a large black man, dressed in all black, with black goggles on his head. They quickly move to action and identify themselves as the Iowa City police and ask me to turn around and place my hands up. I do not comply, they ask again, and again no response from me. So they all draw their guns and begin to slowly approach the suspect.”
Ekakitie’s narrative from both standpoints is unique in that the football player is showcasing the problem with media reporting regarding sensitive Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter cases. Ekakitie says it is not always a black and white issue, and that we need to “unlearn prejudices.” He points out that “not all police officers are out to get you, but at the same time, not all people who fit a criminal profile are criminals.”
Since its original posting, Ekakitie’s post has gone viral with many praising his ability to step back and look at the situation from the law enforcement perspective. What do you think of Faith Ekakitie’s dual-perspective?
[Image via Facebook/ Faith Ekakitie]