Seattle SuperSonics legend Shawn Kemp is free after being released from jail Thursday. The former NBA star was held in Tacoma after he was arrested by police for allegedly being involved in a shooting.
The Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said it would not file charges against the 53-year-old Kemp, but left the door open to do so pending further investigation by the police.
Shawn Kemp’s attorneys claim he acted in self defense in Tacoma shooting
Both hosts Jack Stine and Spike O’Neill on KIRO Newsradio said race came into play when people talk about the Kemp story.
“A lot of people are saying that there’s a lot of racial undertones that are going on, I find it to be pretty cringy,” Stine said. “And in a lot of ways, there’s a lot of people who are trying to make assumptions about Shawn Kemp’s involvement with different groups.”
“You’re right about the racial divide in how we view things in our culture,” Spike said. “When folks say that racism is a thing of the past in this country, that is not an honest interpretation of where we are. That is cringe.”
The hosts compared the reaction to the Kemp shooting with the Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer confrontation and trial. Troyer was accused of tailing a black man delivering newspapers and falsely accusing the man of threatening his life. He was found not guilty on related charges.
“I had this light bulb go off in my brain about your good friend, Ed Troyer. And I realized that when Ed Troyer had been accused of a crime, there were a lot of people out there in the community who were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt,” Jack said. “When I look at the Shawn Kemp story, I have been reading a lot of people that are not willing to give Kemp the benefit of the doubt.”
Spike agreed with that and said many people looked at the Troyer story with a big-picture perspective.
“When we talk about Troyer, many rushed to his defense to give him the benefit of the doubt, to include a body’s worth of work,” Spike said. “But also, at the same time, there was a community that did not give him that benefit. I remember the editorial cartoon in the Tacoma News Tribune of the new Ed Troyer sheriff’s uniform with a white hood. So it’s funny, you’re right, people haven’t rushed to give Shawn Kemp the benefit of the doubt.”
Both felt that these stories are showing a trend in society.
“I’m reading a lot of people who are doing this kind of guilty-before-innocent thing. And I find it really interesting the parallels between these two stories,” Stine said. “We have very public figures within their communities who are being accused of a crime. And in one instance, there were people who were rushing their defense, whether it was because they liked the guy or they just believed the guy or whatever it is, in Shawn Kemp’s case. I see a lot of I don’t necessarily know the best way to put it. But there’s a lot of people out there that are being pretty prejudicial when it comes to Shawn’s camp and his involvement in this shooting that happened in Tacoma.”
Spike said there is an area in between the two stories where the truth lies.
Suits: ‘This state isn’t friendly to your business’ after Kemp arrested for involvement in Tacoma shooting
“Both stories have been told in a narrative that understands and explains the rationale behind that story. And I think it’s true in both of these cases between the Troyer in an altercation with the newspaperman at two in the morning, or the Shawn Kemp altercation with someone who had stolen from him in a parking lot in Tacoma.”
“I find it to be pretty gross that we live in a society where people aren’t willing to give other people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to certain things,” Jack said.
He went on to say that “when we talk about ethnicity in the United States, people get very tense. There is not an open discussion to be had around ethnicity. And then in the United States, generally, without people feeling like they are personally being attacked. And I’m not just talking about white people, could be Hispanic people, could be black people.”
Jack Stein and Spike O’Neill appear regularly on KIRO Newsradio. Spike hosts KIRO Nights on weeknights from 7-10 p.m.