AUSTIN (KXAN) — “Say their names.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, Dec. 13, and one of their players’ cleats is making a statement about police brutality with the help of local hands.
Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II is honoring the late Paul Monroe with his “My Cause My Cleats” footwear, but Monroe’s name isn’t the only featured.
One of those law enforcement agencies, the Austin Police Department, has seen its fair share of scrutiny in the past, including this year. More than one week ago, 11 Austin police officers were disciplined for their actions during downtown protests in May 2020.
The shoe is black and white to symbolize the Black Lives Matter movement. It features a Black Power fist to symbolize solidarity. It states “Say their names” in bold.
Jones II’s cause behind the cleats is Mothers Against Police Brutality—an organization founded by
Collette Flanagan after her son, Clinton Allen, was shot to death by a Dallas police officer in March 2013. You can read more about his story on the organization’s website. They do work to change policies and laws to better policing across Texas.
The running back, along with his big sister Montinique Monroe, tapped local artist Chris Rogers to design his cleats. If you don’t recognize his name, Rogers designed both the George Floyd mural in east Austin this year as well as Mike Ramos’ individual mural in south Austin.
“He brings Black people and the history of Black people [to the forefront]—he makes us visible in east Austin, especially with the rich history we have,” Monroe said.
The artist said this about the cleats’ design in a November Instagram post:
“Massive thank you to @montinique and @rojo for having me design and execute these custom #blm cleats for Ronald’s campaign against police brutality, a subject that is near and dear to Montinique, myself, and nearly every black and Brown person in America.
I was given a wide birth as far as the concept for the cleats was concerned. The only direction I was given was for them to include; ‘say their names‘, Ronald’s list of 18 victims of police brutality, a black fist, and it all had to be black and white. So, I chose to paint a portrait Montinique’s father, Paul Monroe, who was murder by Steven Deaton, a racist Police officer in Austin Police Department, in ‘93, when she was just a baby…”
Montinique, whose Instagram handle is featured in the post, is a photojournalist in Austin. She is the daughter of the aforementioned Paul Monroe, who is featured on Jones II’s cleats. Paul was killed by then Austin Police Commander Steve Deaton during an incident in 1993 when she was just four months old. She made it her goal to tell her father’s story but faced roadblocks growing up.
“Trying to do research on what happened to my father, I would Google my father’s name and nothing would come up, and I would Google the officer’s name and all of these articles about the officer and the wonderful work that he’s done in the city would come up, and so, it kind of hurt me as a kid and as a teenager to know that there was just no relevant documentation about what happened to my father. It felt like my father had completely been erased from history,” Montinique said.
Deaton is the former commander at the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office. He resigned in 2019 amid controversial social media posts. You can read an article Monroe wrote about her father’s death here. Her family still has a lot of unanswered questions surrounding his death. They believe he was wrongfully killed.
She was honored her brother wanted to honor him this season. Jones II describes why he chose to honor Paul Monroe in a video on the NFL’s website.
“We wanted to honor my father but didn’t want to just stop at my father. We wanted to honor other victims in Austin, where my father was killed and victims in the communities that Ronald had lived in, so Texas, L.A. and Florida,” Montinique said.
She said the purpose of writing the names on the cleats is so, “People watching Ronald’s game, Ronald’s fans maybe will open their eyes, maybe will look at the cleats and find the names and do research on one of the victims of the shoes and share their story, because all of these stories are important.”
What the cleats mean to her
For her, to see her father’s name on her brother’s cleat means the world.
“Oh my gosh, I mean, I can tell you, when my brother played his first game this season wearing my dad’s name on his helmet I cried. I just could not believe that we’ve made it to a point where he can say, ‘I support this cause and that this has happened to me, and this is an issue that needs to be talked about,'” Montinique said. “To see him play this Sunday, I know I’m gonna have those same feelings, and I’m just so blessed to have a brother to want to do something like this for his big sister and for other people who can no longer speak for themselves and whose stories have yet to be told.”
You can see more “My Cause My Cleats” alongside Jones II’s on the Buccaneers’ webpage. The list of pictures is in alphabetical order by cause. The initiative has recently taken a foothold in the league. The Buccaneers-Vikings game kicks off at noon on Sunday if you’d like to watch Jones II play. Some of the families of the victims featured on running back’s cleats will be holding watch parties.
“We’re all very excited and very honored and just, just excited to finally, you know, people will finally know the names of our family members. I think that’s what excites us the most,” Montinique said.
But she knows more needs to be done.
“We haven’t even touched the surface with just saying their names. That’s the least that could have been done over the last few decades. I’d say that the work is just beginning and there are plenty more things to do and Ronald and I are trying to figure out what’s our best move in this movement right now and what we should do next.”