On Thursday, Dave Matthews returned to Pay It Forward Live, Verizon’s entertainment series in support of small businesses affected by COVID-19, for a second live-streamed concert following the series’ kick-off with Matthews on March 26. While he spoke about the importance of mask-wearing and gave shoutouts to some of his favorite small businesses in Charlottesville, Va. (including Bodo’s Bagels, Market Street Wine Shop and Local Food Hub), he also went off-script to speak out about George Floyd — a 46-year-old black man who died on May 25 after white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for at least seven minutes while he was handcuffed and lying face-down on the ground. Floyd’s shocking killing has sparked national protests (some of which have turned violent, and worsened on Thursday evening) and has re-sparked national conversations about racism and police brutality.
“I’ve been wondering if I should say something … but I just have to get it off my chest, because if I don't, when I was growing up a Quaker, if you are moved to speak, then you have to say something, or else it's going to block everything,” Matthews stated at the start of his hour-long home concert.
“George Floyd is one name that has been in my mind the last few days, and there are peaceful protests and there's some rioting and there's a lot of angry people,” Matthews began. “But all of this that's coming right now started, we have to remember, with excessive force, lethal force, against a man who was handcuffed on the ground and had the life crushed out of him. He had someone kneeling on his throat and he was killed in broad daylight, unnecessarily — completely unnecessarily, from what I can see, because if you’ve got someone handcuffed and you’ve got them on the ground, you don't need to crush them.
“Anyway, I know this is not the occasion for it, but I just want to say, that's where it started. That's where it started again. What happens every time some violence unjustifiably is committed in a dismissive fashion against people, and all too often in this country against African-American men… it sets the possibility of a good future back. But we have to remember that this anger and this frustration comes from this act of police brutality. This is what starts the anger. This is what breaks windows. This is what breaks property. This is what is frustrating. Whether [or not] it's peaceful, this anger is justified.
“And when I hear young people, young African-American men, talking about this and talking about why they feel threatened, it's because they are. It's because it's justified. One part of a population of a country that claims to be free and believe in freedom, one part of that population should not live in fear of the authorities, no matter who they are. They live in fear because the color of their skin. It is unjustifiable. It is shameful. And that's all I'm going to say. It is shameful.”
Matthews got back to the music after saying what was on his mind, but at the end of his Pay It Forward Live concert, which included Dave Matthews Band classics like “Satellite,” “Crush” and “What Would You Say,” he thanked viewers for paying attention during the show’s “dark” moments as well as its lighter or goofier ones. His entire concert can be viewed here for one week.
Matthews was the final headliner for Pay It Forward Live. Other exclusive concerts in the series have included Alicia Keys, OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, Luke Bryan, Billie Eilish and Finneas, Janelle Monáe, Chance the Rapper, and Usher. Details about how Pay It Forward Live will evolve this summer, as Verizon continues to support and provide resources for the small business community, will be announced soon.
Over the course of Pay It Forward Live, viewers have been encouraged to do what they can to support local businesses in their own communities by shopping online, buying a gift card to be used when businesses reopen or ordering a meal. Verizon has donated $10, up to $2.5 million, to support small businesses for each use of the hashtag #PayItForwardLive in addition to its existing pledge of $7.5 million. More information can be found at Verizon.com/PayItForwardLive.
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