Protesters used cans of spray paint to make graffiti on the south side of Kinnick Stadium, Saturday June 6, in Iowa City. Iowa City Press-Citizen
Black former Iowa football players are speaking out against the vandalism of Kinnick Stadium and the statue of the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner, saying that vandals are missing the larger point.
“This isn’t what we’re trying to promote,” Jaleel Johnson wrote on Twitter, a message retweeted by longtime NFL defensive tackle and former Hawkeye Mike Daniels. “We want change in a community we consider to be our home. Not to be vandalized by outsiders.”
Johnson, a former Hawkeye defensive tackle who plays for the Minnesota Vikings, was one of the strongest voices to speak up against what dozens of former players have described as a culture of racism within the Hawkeye program. Johnson had pointed toward strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz as the program’s biggest problems when it comes to racial divides. But his comments also underscore the movement’s desire for change beyond the program, within the hearts of everyone in a 91% white state.
Doyle has since been placed on administrative leave by head coach Kirk Ferentz.
“As a former player at Iowa, I understand and support my former teammates and all the issues that are being stated,” former defensive tackle Carl Davis said on Twitter. “But whoever did that (stuff) to Kinnick (is) lame as hell and y’all are undermining our progress as African American Players.”
Spray-painted brick, windows and concrete with anti-Doyle, anti-racism and anti-police messages defaced Kinnick Stadium late Saturday night. The vandalism extended to the Nile Kinnick statue. Kinnick, who died in World War II, once wrote this, a transcript of which can be found in the Sports Illustrated's "Vault" archives, in his journal after training in Florida in 1943:
“The inequities in human relationships are many, but the lot of the Negro is one of the worst. ... Kicked from pillar to post, condemned, cussed, ridiculed, accorded no respect, permitted no sense of human dignity. What can be done I don't know. When this war is over the problem is apt to be more difficult than ever. May wisdom, justice, brotherly love guide our steps to the right solution."
Former running backs Akrum Wadley and Marcel Joly were among those who spoke out against the vandalism, as well. Current safety Dallas Craddieth also took advantage of the newly lifted Iowa football Twitter ban by posting his thoughts: “Y’all didn’t have to do Kinnick Stadium like that,” he wrote, with a face-palm emoji. “Trust me, everyone is being heard.”
Davis tweeted that he and Johnson were putting their words into action and would be heading to Iowa City.
"We want to be apart of the solution," Davis wrote. "We put out blood sweat and tears into being a Hawkeye. We want to see it be great as possible. Iowa city see you soon!"