“I don’t think I necessarily had that talk [when growing up], but I do remember it being very much ingrained in my community and in my society that you need to act a certain way when you’re outside,” the E! News Pop of the Morning host, 33, told Us Weekly exclusively on Thursday, June 4. “Like, you need to act a certain way when you’re around police officers. You need to act a certain way, because of who you are and they will not show any restraint if you are doing something that you’re that they deemed you shouldn’t be doing, because they will use excessive force on you specifically because of who you are.”
Cruz continued, “It was just something that was kind of ingrained in my society. You know, it wasn’t even something that was like a sit-down and we had a conversation. I just grew up knowing that, you know what I mean? It was embedded, and I think that’s a problem. Like, the fact that people are growing up with the embedded assumption that you better do right by police officers because they will, you know, put their hands on you and beat you up and be brutal with you if you [do] not abide by their rules.”
The former NFL wide receiver said he “never” wanted to have this kind of conversation with his 8-year-old daughter, Kennedy. “I had to talk to her as if I was talking to my friend … so that she’s not shocked by anything when she gets older and she can psychologically prepare herself for the things that she may face throughout her lifetime,” he explained.
Conversations about America’s police brutality problem have increased in mainstream settings following the death of George Floyd. On May 25, the Minneapolis, Minnesota, resident died after officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death was later ruled as “asphyxiation from sustained pressure.” He was 46.
Floyd’s death sparked worldwide outrage and led to an array of protests. Celebrities including Ariana Grande and Keke Palmer been vocal in the midst of the growing movement, but not all comments have been met with favorable responses.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, for one, received backlash for disagreeing with peaceful kneeling protests over police brutality during NFL games. The 41-year-old athlete said that he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag.” He later apologized for his “insensitive” remarks.
Weighing in on the matter, Cruz said that Brees’ comments were “saddening” but that he is pleased with the athlete’s apology statement.
“I read his apology this morning and I respect it,” the former New England Patriots player told Us. “I’m thankful that he actually mentioned the black community and what side he’s actually on. And I respect that, but I feel that the damage is already done. His true colors has already been exposed.”
With reporting by Christina GaribaldiListen on Spotify to Us Weekly's Hot Hollywood as each week the editors of Us break down the hottest entertainment news stories!
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