'We shouldn’t be numb to it': OU football player Chanse Sylvie forms plan for police reform, seeks coalition
NORMAN — Chanse Sylvie was enraged watching the video of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
“Anger, disturbed, perplexed, confused,” the OU defensive back said of his initial reactions. “Let’s call it what it is — it’s murder. How is this still going on? … Racism shouldn’t be just another thing that’s on the news today. We shouldn’t be numb to it.”
But Sylvie’s anger quickly gave way to resolve.
How could he help make an impactful change that goes beyond a brief moment of outrage?
As protests, some devolving into violence, rippled through the country, Sylvie wanted to do something more than a social media post. He wanted to work to try to bring change.
He’s currently in Houston, but seeing the protests happening in Oklahoma City and elsewhere around the country brought Sylvie to action.
“It’s easy to sit back and Tweet. It’s easy to complain and blame and say this and that,” Sylvie said. “But the hard part is coming up with a solution for how to fix it.
“So I started thinking, ‘What can I do as a young, black male to help the community or to steer them in the right direction?’”
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So Sunday, after a flurry of messages and conversations, many with other members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, Sylvie put together a plan of action he’s hoping will catch the attention of elected officials and others with the power to help enact changes. He posted his plan on Twitter late Sunday night.
“I’m looking for a group of like-minded men and women, a coalition, to work to make a change,” Sylvie said.
Sylvie kept things simple, lining out four points he believes would help make it less likely that a black person was killed unjustly by police.
Sylvie’s plan starts off with a call that officers terminated for misconduct can no longer work for a police department anywhere nationally. The plan also calls for making public all complaints against officers, the creation of a national standard for police recruiting and use of force policies and independent investigations of all allegations of police misconduct.
Derek Chauvin, the officer charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death, had 18 prior complaints filed against him, according to reports.
“Why does it take a murder to stop that,” Sylvie said. “How can we stop it from being a murder? How can we stop it to where it’s nipped in the bud.
“If any regular civilian is arrested or charged, that’s public record so why shouldn’t it be the same for law enforcement?”
Sylvie said the culture of OU football has been positive through all of this, saying head coach Lincoln Riley had been “nothing but helpful” in helping his players confront this issue. There was a players-only Zoom call Monday to address the issue.
“It’s a team full of everybody — not just black people, not just minorities — full of all races, and he’s been there for everybody in all walks of life to make sure we’re comfortable and able to share our voice.”
Sylvie said it was a lesson from defensive coordinator Alex Grinch that helped push him to action this week.
“He always mentions to us, ‘Response equals outcome,’” Sylvie said. “We have an issue here. How we respond will lead to the outcome.”
Sylvie once had dreams of being in law enforcement himself, telling The Oklahoman last year that he wanted to work for the FBI or CIA.
Now, those plans have changed.
“I want to be a public official, a politician, a mayor, a city councilman, a senator or something like that and be able to be a figure in the community,” Sylvie said. “Going through this and writing up this plan I’m thinking, ‘Wow, those people in those positions actually are in place to make changes in the community and lead it.’”
Whatever he does, though, Sylvie says he’s committed to working for change.
“I don’t want 20 years from now to be preaching the same things,” Sylvie said. “So my goal was how can I take steps to change that?”
Sylvie said he’s confident that change will come.
“Four-hundred years ago, 200 years ago, the Civil Rights movement, you know what we lacked? We lacked proof,” Sylvie said. “A lot of people could deny it. Now it’s on camera. That’s proof. You can’t hide what is shown to the people. People again and again are seeing public brutality of our people. You can’t hide that no more.”