Celtics star Jaylen Brown leads protest in Atlanta after George Floyd’s death

After driving more than 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta this weekend, Celtics guard Jaylen Brown led a massive peaceful protest through downtown Atlanta on Saturday night in response to the death of George Floyd earlier this week.

Brown, an Atlanta-area native, put out the call on social media asking for people to meet at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in downtown Atlanta.

By the time they got started, Brown had attracted hundreds of protesters — who then took off down the street chanting and holding signs.

Brown later said that at least three people were “wrongfully arrested” at his protest.

The 23-year-old is one of countless other prominent sports figures who have spoken out since Floyd’s death in police custody on Monday and the video of his arrest — which showed a white Minneapolis police officer with his knee in Floyd’s neck for seven minutes while he yelled out, “I can’t breathe” — went viral.

That officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been arrested and is facing murder and manslaughter charges.

Brown — who was averaging 20.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this season, his fourth in the league, when play was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic — has been extremely vocal on social media in the days that followed Floyd’s death.

“Being a bystander is no longer acceptable," Brown said in an Instagram video. "If you and your friends are around or are witnesses to cultural biases, micro-aggressions, subtle acts of racism, actual racism etc. and you don’t speak up on it or do something about it, you are part of the problem. We’re past the point where if it’s not in your governance space so you have nothing to do with it. If you don’t speak up on these issues, you just as bad.”

Protests and riots have broken out in cities across the country in recent days, including in Atlanta — where they turned violent and destructive on Friday night.

Demonstrators downtown badly damaged the CNN Center and the College Football Hall of Fame, and even threw a firecracker into the building while CNN reporters were live on national television.

Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms slammed those violent protests, and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp later declared a state of emergency and called in the national guard.

“What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta,” Bottoms said Friday night, via CNN. “This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is Chaos.

“A protest has a purpose. When Dr. King was assassinated, we didn’t do this to our city. If you want change in America, go and register to vote … That is the change we need in this country.”

At the beginning of the protest, Brown reminded those who walked with him that they needed to stay peaceful.

“There’s going to be a lot people trying to infiltrate us,” he said, via 11Alive’s Hope Ford. “Pay attention to your surroundings.”

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