Michael Bennett looked like he was in casual mode Friday, sporting a Hawaii hat and Sounders FC shirt - a nod to his off season and current homes.
Yet he was seriously talking about what has transpired in his adopted city of Seattle.
“I’m not from Seattle, but I’ve grown to be a man in Seattle,” said the Seahawks All-Pro, talking about why and how he’s decided to spend his last free hours before a new season.
Bennett says he was struck by the death of Charleena Lyles, a single mother of four who was killed in a controversial police shooting near Magnuson Park last month.
“With a loss of a mother, it’s (hard) as a kid to already have everything against them; to lose a mother makes the situation even harder,” he said.
That’s why he’s decided to act now. He says it’s not a matter of the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
“This just so happens that it’s the city I’m a part of, different than Ferguson or Florida. I’m actually part of this community, and I’m this time, if I’m part of this community, why not use your platform and your platform to connect people?”
He’s sponsoring a fundraiser and rally for Lyles children at Judkins Park on Saturday. It ran from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and he says all proceeds will go to the kids.
Bennett also stresses not to read too much more into it.
“It’s not a hate the police rally. There are great police officers. One situation doesn’t define everybody in the city," he said.
But he and his friend, rapper Draze, are attempting to use the event to prompt change.
“It’s a blessing to turn something so tragic, into something that can be positive,” said Bennett.
The two will host a “Power Summit” at the Seattle Art Museum, as well on Saturday. Draze, who grew up in Seattle’s Central District, says the goal is to empower potential minority small business owners.
“We have a business pitch competition where minority businesses are going to have a chance to pitch their businesses shark tank style - and win some money,” Draze added. “It’s all about community, all about economic empowerment.”
The summit runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, and the Seattle mayoral candidates are expected to address the attendees.
Draze also says, as he looks around his hometown, the percentage of African-American residents is dwindling and being pushed out to the southern suburbs. He believes minority business ownership is a way to keep roots here.
“Be a game changer, be a world shaker. Don’t just dream and think about an idea; act on that idea and believe in yourself," said Draze.
Bennett says, while yes, he could be doing something else on his last day before training camp, “This is just normal. (It's) unnormal to see a piece of trash on the ground, and not pick up; unnormal to see a homeless person and not care. This is the normal reaction everyone should have; we should all be a part of saving the world.”
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