|Panthers remove Jerry Richardson statue over safety concerns|
|13-foot sculpture moved to undisclosed site|
|Published Wednesday, June 10, 2020 7:23 pm|
|PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY|
|The Carolina Panthers moved the statue of founding owner Jerry Richardson Monday to an undisclosed location. The team cited safety concerns in light of protests in Charlotte's Center City as the reason for taking the sculpture down.|
A 13-foot statue of the former owner, placed outside the stadium facing Graham Street in honor of his 80th birthday in 2016, came down today. The statue has been moved to an undisclosed storage facility in North Carolina.
“We were aware of the most recent conversation surrounding the Jerry Richardson statue and are concerned there may be attempts to take it down. We are moving the statue in the interest of public safety,” the Panthers organization said in a statement.
Jim Gray, Richardson's Durham-based spokesman, said in a statement: “Mr. Richardson has made no public comments about the Panthers or the NFL since the sale of the team and doesn't plan to do so now as a private citizen. He has worked to treat all people fairly in his business and personal lives and, like many other Americans, is troubled by recent events in Minneapolis, Charlotte and around the country.”
David Tepper, who bought the franchise from Richardson, for a record $2.2 billion in 2018, completed the deal on the heels of an NFL investigation of racial and sexual misconduct allegations against Richardson. Calls for the statue’s removal came with Tepper’s purchase, but Tepper said at the time he was contractually obligated to leave it.
“As the Carolina Panthers, we pride ourselves in the way we carry ourselves, and being the standard,” Panthers safety Tre Boston said. “With the issues that were going on, you can think for yourself, obviously there was misconduct also. It wasn’t just this or that. It’s just, ‘do you condone that as well?’ I think that was something that in the direction where the Carolina Panthers [are going], we would like to move forward.”
Bank of America Stadium sits on the site of the former Good Samaritan Hospital, which is noted on the stadium grounds. Good Samaritan was the only facility where African Americans could receive medical care during state-enforced segregation in Charlotte. It is also the site of one of Mecklenburg County’s two documented lynchings represented at The Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.
Joseph McNeely, who was lynched on Sept. 26, 1913, was in his early 20s when he was transported to Good Samaritan after sustaining injuries in a shootout with a police officer. McNeely was in chains recovering from his wounds when a mob of 75 white men dragged him into the street and shot him dead.
Another Mecklenburg resident, Willie McDaniel, who was killed on June 29, 1929 is also among 4,400 lynching victims remembered at the EJI Memorial.
Over 100 years later, blacks still face social injustice across the United States. Protests have swept the world in response to the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota last month. Players have received encouragement from Tepper and first-time NFL head coach Matt Rhule to use their voices for social change. Boston, linebackers Thompson and Andre Smith, as well as tight ends Chris Manhertz and Ian Thomas participated in a protest in the Myers Park/Dilworth neighborhoods last week. Tepper called them to offer encouragement, a stark contrast from Richardson, whom many of the players did not have a speaking relationship with.
When Boston was on the team in 2016 when Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed police, players received no such encouragement from the front office or coaching staff.
“It ended up being, ‘people come to watch football—they don’t come to watch protests, and that feel,” Boston said. “You know that talk. From there we were just advised, don’t do it.”
Part of the reason Boston returned to Carolina last season was due to an understanding that the culture was changing.
“Times are different,” he said. “I wasn’t part of the group they have now [Player Impact Committee] for social justice, last year, but to see even that being a part of what Tepper is about, and those guys affecting the community, we didn’t have that group back then. That’s what we fought for. That’s how we make a difference.”
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