Victor Cruz: Racist vandalism reflection of Trump's America

Victor Cruz said the racial slurs scrawled on the walls of Giants fullback Nikita Whitlock’s home in Moonachie, N.J, on Tuesday are a direct reflection of the America that elected Donald Trump its next president.

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“I think it’s definitely a direct reflection of how this country’s being run and how this country’s reacting maybe to some of the decisions, some of the ways that this country’s being run and things that are being said by people at the helm of this country and at the helm of our day-to-day lives — our day-to-day from social media all the way up to the White House,” Cruz, 30, a product of nearby Paterson, N.J., said Thursday in the Giants’ locker room. “These are things that are being spoken of and talked about on a daily basis, the good and the bad, more so the bad at this point right now because that’s all we have to work with. It’s just an unfortunate situation we’re going through right now.”

Cruz said he sees graffiti swastika, the initials “KKK” and the message “Go back to Africa” left for Whitlock and his family during a break-in, according to the Giants fullback, as direct reflections of the mindset that is sending Trump to Pennsylvania Avenue.

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“Absolutely,” Cruz said. “I think there’s a specific mindset that comes with supporting a guy like Donald Trump and supporting what he stands for, and there’s a certain type of person that comes with that, and I’m not sure that person is always a positive-minded person. You know what I mean? You just have to be careful. As a minority you have to be careful. As a person of influence you have to be careful, and you’ve just got to make sure your family’s safe and give them the knowledge to stay safe in this world.”

Victor Cruz reflects on the 'specific mindset that comes with supporting a guy like Donald Trump.'

Victor Cruz reflects on the ‘specific mindset that comes with supporting a guy like Donald Trump.’

(Pat Leonard/New York Daily News)

Cruz said he does not care that these comments could turn him into a lightning rod or target for more hate. He has had enough.

“I mean, look at this country,” Cruz said. “Joe McKnight dies in the middle of the street, ya know?”

McKnight, the former NFL player and ex-Jet, was gunned down unarmed in a road rage incident in the New Orleans suburb of Terrytown, La. last week. His killer, Ronald Gasser, was initially released by police before being arrested days later and charged with one count of manslaughter.

Giants FB Nikita Whitlock reportedly has home vandalized

“If you’re angry about … my opinion and you’re not angry at guys dying without a care, without being armed, they’re not causing harm, they’re not doing anything wrong, then that’s our issue,” Cruz said. “That’s the problem, is that you’re worried about what someone of influence might be talking about and his opinion rather than attacking the issue at hand. And that’s innocent minorities dying on a daily basis, and dying on a weekly basis, and going through things with their family.

“(Whitlock experienced) vandalism, in the Tri-State area. This is right here in our home,” Cruz added. “This is our backyard, and these things are happening. It’s unfortunate.”

Rookie defensive end Romeo Okwara, 21, who moved from Nigeria to the United States as a sixth-grader, has the African continent tattooed on his chest. Okwara shook his head at the racist vandalism in Whitlock’s home.

“It just shows how many people in this country still think that way,” he said. “I mean, you see situations like this all the time. It probably happens every day, but this is just one of the situations that’s actually in the news because it’s a Giants player. It’s pretty crazy. It’s a pretty sad situation.”

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Veteran running back Bobby Rainey, 29, who hails from Georgia, still has a house in his home state but brought his family north to New Jersey when he made the Giants’ roster this fall. So Whitlock’s situation definitely hit home for Rainey, who found out about it when the Rainey family’s babysitter — who lives near Whitlock — called Rainey’s wife to alert them of a break-in.

President-elect Donald Trump

President-elect Donald Trump

(JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

“First, there’s family involved,” Rainey said of the break-in. “You have to be protective of your family. So I feel like with that type of behavior there, that’s playing with fire. The people that are doing it, they’re playing with fire. Because one, being a man, you’ve got to protect your family, so luckily they weren’t caught in the act. You don’t know what would have happened after that.

“I’m from the South, and being up here in the North you don’t hear too much about that going on,” Rainey admitted of the racist remarks. “But to say that don’t happen up this way, I wouldn’t say that because it’s everywhere. It just depends on if they’re gonna expose it or bring it out, but it’s around, regardless. All I can do is pray for those people that are the way they are.”

Cruz, being a local kid, clearly was shaken to the core, though, that this incident happened so close. Moonachie is a stone’s throw away from MetLife Stadium and just 20 minutes away from his hometown of Paterson.

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“That’s what’s most shocking to me about this specific incident with Nikita Whitlock is that this is 20 minutes from where I grew up,” Cruz said. “This could have easily happened in Paterson, this could have easily happened in Clifton or Passaic or Lyndhurst for that matter. This could have happened anywhere.”

Cruz said given the state of affairs he is “leery” as a public figure from exposing his family at all to the public.

“I’m even leery about posting my family on Instagram, on any social media, because they see that and then they recognize your family, your daughter, whoever it is, and then who knows what people are thinking or people might do when they see my daughter with my mom in a restaurant somewhere randomly,” he said. “You just never know. So it’s a fine line that you have to walk, especially being an athlete and somewhat recognizable, you have to kind of walk that tightrope.” 

Tags:
nfl
new york giants
victor cruz
nikita whitlock
hate crimes
racial injustice
donald trump
ku klux klan

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