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Dalian Atkinson: Black Lives Matter, stereotypes and blaming football

Dalian Atkinson: a look at repotting on the former Aston Villa footballer who died after being hit by police tasers.

The Guardian: “Dalian Atkinson death asks hard questions of police and football”

Can football be blamed for one man’s death in unusual circumstances?

Death of former Aston Villa striker focuses spotlight on Taser use, racial stereotyping and support for ex-professionals

Are we in danger os stereotyping the police? Atkinson was black. Press TV, the biased Iranian broadcaster, leads with: “Two British police officers are under criminal investigation over the death of black English footballer Dalian Atkinson.” The Guardian has linked Atkinson’s death to the Black Lives Matter movement.

For the past year, the 48-year-old had been receiving hospital treatment for a serious liver and kidney condition, with his family making increasingly desperate pleas for help from the football community.

What is the football community? Atkinson played for Ipswich Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Real Sociedad, Metz, Fenerbahçe, Al-Ittihad, Daejeon Citizen and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Manchester City, for one, are not exactly hard up. The BBC says “Sociedad fans applauded throughout the ninth minute as a tribute to their former striker Dalian Atkinson.” A sign behind the Aston Villa dugout reads: “Dalian Atkinson – Never Forgotten.”

 Geoff Scott, the CEO of the football welfare charity Xpro Life After Sport, told the Guardian that Atkinson’s family had sought financial assistance for his medical care and wanted help to move him to a private hospital.

The charity could not help. But the Professional Footballers’ Association arranged his travel to hospital for more than a year. Atkinson spoke personally to Gordon Taylor, the PFA chief executive, last Friday.

He had been due to see a specialist on Monday, the day he died after being Tasered by police on his father’s doorstep in the quiet Telford suburb of Trench, in Shropshire.

The paper then sees fit to add:

Neighbours have described how Atkinson, who also played for Ipswich Town and Sheffield Wednesday, pulled up outside his father’s house in his Porsche 4×4 around midnight on Sunday.

Nice car. Sounds pricey. But why mention the make and model?

The Sun does the same:

The retired striker, who drove a Porsche, had spells with Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City and joined Villa for £1.6million in July 1991.

The Birmingham Mail: “Dalian Atkinson new witness: Ex striker was struck with a baton after being tasered”

It has been reported that Atkinson had stumbled towards officers shouting, “I am the Messiah”, before a Taser, capable of 50,000 volt shocks, was used.

We hear from Dave Lewis, who lives across the road from Dalian Atkinson’s father. He says:

“It’s very easy to be wise after the event, but everything had to be done in a split second. The officer who used the Taser had a very difficult decision to make.”

It is. That’s why police are trained to make the right decision.

In the Sun “a man who claimed to be Dalian’s nephew, Fabian Atkinson” says:

“If the police are turning up to a scene where someone is having an argument, they have to be prepared to calm that person and not just go straight for the taser. As soon as you deploy the taser they have to call an ambulance straight away, and try to find out the person’s medical history.

“My uncle was having kidney dialysis, which would have made his heart weaker. The police knew nothing about that. How can they taser someone without calling an ambulance first?”

Is is because “everything has to be done in a split second”? As we wonder why the Sun bothered with that quote, the Birmingham Mail returns to Dave Lewis:

His account differs dramatically from that of another witness, described as a neighbour in national newspapers… Mr Lewis, who lives directly opposite, says he saw one officer draw back a foot as if to land a kick but, if that was the intention, he says it was never carried out. Despite reports that the Taser was used five times on 48-year-old Atkinson, he only saw it used once.

But she heard “boots kicking him”. Mr Lewis:

“His dad let him in and the police came. There was a policeman and a policewoman, no blue lights, and one backed away. It was one-to-one with the other officer. If I was that police officer, I’d have a very difficult decision to make. He was approaching the policeman. If someone rushes at you and they’ve already smashed a door in and the state they are in… well, you’ve got a difficult decision to make.

“I didn’t see the other officer touch him with a boot. The officer did draw a baton, though, and hit him with the baton. Right after that, the sky went blue with the lights from all the police cars and vans.”

Daily Mail:  “Dalian Atkinson: The tragic final days of Aston Villa hero who died after being Tasered by police”

Sportsmail can reveal that the Dalian Atkinson struck by the 50,000-volt weapon was a fragile, ill man, suffering not only from kidney and liver problems but also from pneumonia, who had become convinced that only a doctor across the Atlantic could help him.

The Times: “The tragic silence of Atkinson’s final years”

He had arrived at the house that he had bought for his parents in Meadow Close, Telford, in the early hours of Monday morning. According to his father, Ernest, and his brother, Kenroy, he claimed that he had already killed his siblings and attempted to throttle his father. Kenroy told The Sun that his brother was “in a manic state and depressed, out of his mind and ranting, not in his right mind.” Ernest said he “did not know if he was drunk, or on drugs”.

A neighbour called the police, concerned “for the safety of an individual”. When officers arrived, they struck Atkinson with a Taser, reportedly on as many as three occasions.

And before that.

Atkinson got in contact with the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the body that looks after players during and after their careers. He applied to their benevolent fund for help covering rent. On his behalf, they struck a deal with his landlord that he would pay three months’ rent but be allowed to stay in New Woodhouses for six.

Football did not let Dalian Atkinson down. That narrative is too simple.

Posted: 22nd, August 2016 | In: Reviews, Sports | Comment | Comments RSS feed:RSS 2.0