Sport renews commitment to social justice on Floyd death anniversary

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Reaction to the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin

(Reuters) - Athletes and U.S. sporting bodies renewed their commitment to the fight for social change and racial justice on Tuesday, the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin.

Floyd died after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes and his killing triggered the largest U.S. protest movement in decades over police brutality against Black people.

Chauvin was found guilty of murdering Floyd last month and faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 25.

Athletes, including LeBron James, Naomi Osaka, and Lewis Hamilton were some of the most prominent supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, calling for justice for Floyd and victims of police brutality and racism.

One Tuesday, Formula One champion Hamilton said Floyd's legacy would last forever.

"What does justice mean when a man's life is stolen because of nothing more than the colour of his skin?" Hamilton said on Twitter.

"George wasn't supposed to die that day. One year later, the impact of his life and its unfair ending remains with us. Today, we will mourn George and keep his loved ones in our prayers.

"We never forget. We continue our work ... We work to build an equal world for George, for his children, and for all the other victims of racism."

North American sports leagues including the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS and WNBA commemorated Floyd's death anniversary with acknowledgements that more needed to be done in the fight for equality.

The NBA and its players led the Black Lives Matter movement from the front, postponing three playoff games in August following the police shooting of another Black man, Jacob Blake, in Wisconsin, a move that triggered similar demonstrations across other sports.

"One year ago, the killing of George Floyd advanced a global reckoning around systematic racism and inspired a movement for social justice," the NBA said.

"Today and every day, members of the NBA family stand united in working for change and a future that provides true equality."

The NBA's Social Justice Coalition had earlier called on the U.S. Senate to pass a police reform bill to honour Floyd's memory.

The National Football League also renewed its commitment to the fight for equality.

"As we mark one year since the murder of George Floyd, our thoughts are with the Floyd family and all who have been affected by his death," the NFL said. "This has been a year filled with reflection and reckoning.

"The work for equitable justice must continue and the NFL and its clubs are proud to work alongside NFL players to build a more just society."

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Alistair Bell)