Prominent sports figures spoke out on Monday after video began to spread on social media showing a white Minneapolis cop with his knee on the neck of a black man who later died.
Federal authorities are investigating the incident on the request of police chief Medaria Arradondo, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Arradondo said he asked for it after receiving “additional information” and viewing the video taken by bystanders begging officers to listen to the man saying “I can’t breath.” The man’s name is George Floyd.
“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” Mayor Jacob Frey said at a news conference, via the Star Tribune. “For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a black man’s neck. Five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense. What happened on Chicago and 38th last night is awful. It was traumatic. It serves as a reminder of how far we have to go.”
He continued, visibly shaken: “Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth, he should still be with us this morning.”
The mayor said the officers involved have been relieved of their duty.
The video continued to circulate and draw reaction on Tuesday with sports figures lending their voices to the discussion.
Stallworth: ‘Why NFL players kneel’
Retired NFL star Donte Stallworth shared the video and pointed out it was why Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the national anthem in 2016. The former, but not retired, quarterback did it to call attention to police brutality and social justice issues.
The video is tough to watch.
“Why NFL Players Kneel: Reason 1 Million” pic.twitter.com/Ksk1Dxnwzo— Donté Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) May 26, 2020
Stallworth devoted a handful of tweets to the incident on Tuesday, writing on a video shared by retired defensive end Chris Long:
“what kind of police training instructs you to keep your knee on someone’s neck with all your body weight for several minutes until the person loses consciousness?”
and, of course, the trend of local news affiliates using verbal gymnastics to avoid placing any responsibility of deaths caused by police continues. most of them are basically police stenographers pic.twitter.com/ji7quA7UbL— Donté Stallworth (@DonteStallworth) May 26, 2020
LeBron James: Do you understand now?
LeBron James echoed Stallworth’s commentary with an Instagram post juxtaposing the image of the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck next to Kaepernick.
Former NFL linebacker and current ESPN analyst Emmanuel Acho released an emotional video calling for white Americans to care more about police brutality. He asked for “the same energy” seen when Cleveland Browns star Myles Garrett hit Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with his own helmet.
DONE BEING QUIET AND DONE BEING ANGRY. HOW CAN WE FEEL SAFE WHEN THOSE MEANT TO PROTECT US ARE KILLIN’ US?!!!! WHEN WILL MINORITIES BE FREE TO BE AMERICANS IN AMERICA!?— DeMarcus Lawrence (@TankLawrence) May 26, 2020
Torrey Smith, a two-time Super Bowl winner who is vocal on issues of social justice, shared the video with the comment:
“This may sound crazy but I think the second officer is just as guilty for allowing this to happen. Who is going to be first in line to defend this?”
He then answered the replies and described issues with in the police ranks with holding peers accountable.
This was the perfect example. The guy was just standing there. What is their standard? What happened to holding your peers accountable to the pledge they took to “protect and serve”? https://t.co/pnIrN6mfn0— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) May 26, 2020
Why does it matter? You think that was the only way this “trained” officer could handle the man? It doesn’t matter if he stole a pack of gum or shot someone. The actions from those officers were trash 😑 https://t.co/IlLByfdymQ— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) May 26, 2020
CBS analyst and former Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask responded to Smith’s tweet.
It doesn’t sound crazy to me - both are at fault, both are to blame - horrific, tragic, wretched, cruel, disgusting and more.— Amy Trask (@AmyTrask) May 26, 2020
Washington Mystics champion Natasha Cloud, also a vocal advocate of social justice issues, wrote simply, “But some of y’all will justify this.”
Retired NBA champ calls him ‘my twin’
Stephen Jackson, who won the 2003 NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs, said on Instagram that Floyd was his “twin” and “Anybody from Houston/ Cuney Homes u [sic] know this was my brother.”
He posted a series of videos and photos, which contain NSFW language.
Jackson said he sent clothes to Floyd and that the man was in Minnesota to get his life on track.
“My boy was doing what he was supposed to do, man. Y’all go and kill my brother, man.”
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