If you use Facebook, you have probably already seen dozens of friends pour buckets of ice water on their heads to raise awareness for ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease), a progressive neurodegenerative disease. As the ALS Association explains:
Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
Countless people have taken the challenge, including celebrities, athletes, news anchors and former presidents, hoping to raise money for ALS research. So far, over $40 million has been raised.
Hoping to capitalize on the media attention for the challenge, Sleepy Hollow star Orlando Jones launched a variant on YouTube. He calls it the “Bullet Bucket Challenge”. As the video below shows, Jones pours a bucket of shell casings over his head. He says that it is meant to draw attention to violence in America.
“I think the intention behind the ice challenge — ice bucket challenge as it is sometimes called — is great and I am gladly going to send my $100 check to support ALS. However, this past week I’ve watched an American city become something akin to a war zone. And, you know, what’s happening in Ferguson looks like a copycat because we’ve seen it happen in so many cities around the world,” Jones says in the video.
“It’s this sort of ‘us versus them’ mentality… Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and millions of others are dead, and they were fighting for human rights. It all seems to stem from some militarized police force threatening the rights of people to assemble,” he continued. “Now, I’m a life-time member of the NRA, and I’m an active member of the great state of Louisiana’s police force — obviously a special member — so I’m not pointing any fingers at anybody here but myself.”
“And I’m asking something very hard of myself. I’m challenging myself to listen without prejudice, to love without limits, and to reverse the hate. So that’s my challenge, to me, and hopefully you’ll accept this challenge, too.”
Fusion.net interviewed Jones to find out what inspired him to do the Bullet Bucket Challenge. In his own words:
First of all, the “ice bucket challenge” sort of started elsewhere, and the ALS Association is a completely worthy and incredible organization. They’ve raised millions of dollars, which is kind of amazing.
Thinking about what has been happening in America over the course of the last week, it seemed like tons of celebrities had done the ice bucket challenge to bring attention to the disease. I wanted to do what ALS did, co-opt a viral thing and make it my own, to talk about the insanity happening in Ferguson and just around the world. My parents are like, “It’s the ’60s again.”
Those shell casings in my video represent the people who paid the ultimate cost for the freedoms we have today. I couldn’t find enough bullets to dump on myself to illustrate the number of people who gave their lives for a very important ideal.
Jones also brought attention to racial injustice in this country, which he says has happened to him on more than one occasion:
I’ve been profiled by a police officer more times than I can count. I’ve had the police pull a gun on me during a routine traffic stop. Like, I think I’d changed lanes without a blinker or something.
I remember when Susan Smith had tragically killed her children and blamed some unknown black male assailant. It was a nationwide all points bulletin to find him. Everyone was looking for a black man in South Carolina, and I was a black man in South Carolina. I was stopped four or five times in those two or three days.
Then the police realized all of that was a hoax and she’d killed her children. But before they realized that, hundreds of black men — I know at least 15 of them personally — were detained and questioned about committing a fictional crime.