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LGBT athletes express outrage over George Floyd’s death: ‘Which one of us is next?’

Many sports stars, including LGBT athletes, are demanding justice over the death of a black man in Minnesota who was killed while in police custody.

Martin Luther King Symposium
Jason Collins is one of many sports stars who’s expressed outrage over George Floyd’s death.
Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Sports stars everywhere are expressing outrage over George Floyd’s death, including some of the most notable LGBT names in athletics. It is important for our community to stand up for those victimized by deadly injustice.

Cell phone video shows Floyd, a black Minnesota man, was pinned down by police and held in a chokehold until paramedics arrived, even though he was screaming he couldn't breathe. Police were responding to an alleged forgery in progress.

Floyd died in police custody.

All four officers at the scene have been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department. Protests broke out in the city Tuesday evening, resulting in violent clashes with police, who threw smoke bombs and tear gas at the protesters.

Many athletes of color, including LeBron James, shared images of Floyd’s beatdown beside photos of Colin Kaepernick kneeling. The former NFL quarterback remains unsigned after kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality during the 2016 season.

The circumstances of Floyd’s death are chillingly reminiscent of the Eric Garner case. The black New York City man was strangled by police on Staten Island in 2014 for the crime of allegedly selling loose cigarettes. His death prompted a surge of athletic activism, with James and others wearing shirts with the saying, “I Can’t Breathe.”

As LGBT people, we sympathize with the horrors of being subjected to deadly violence based on the crime of simply existing. In 2018, advocates tracked at least 26 murders of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. Nearly one in five hate crimes in the U.S. stems from anti-LGBT bias, according to the FBI.

Five-time WNBA champion Rebekkah Brunson shared her outrage, directing anger at the other officers as well, who stood and watched their colleague kill Floyd.

Jason Collins made a point about systematic racism in the U.S., tying in the story of Amy Cooper, the New York City woman who called 911 when a black man in Central Park asked her to put her dog on a leash. Cooper, who was fired from her job at an investment firm, hysterically screamed an “African-American man” was “attacking” her.

Former NFL lineman Esera Tuaolo expressed solidarity with other people of color and also applauded Kaepernick’s message.

With hate crime violence hitting a 16-year high under President Donald Trump, who hasn’t yet addressed Floyd’s death, it’s imperative for all of us to speak out against racism and bigotry. The results of staying silent can be deadly, as gay former hockey player and advocate Brock McGillis said.

While always prevalent, it is impossible to ignore the obvious institutional racism at play in cities across the country, as police deployed tear gas against protesters demonstrating against Floyd’s death, while standing idle when largely white protesters demonstrate against coronavirus restrictions.

Brunson retweeted a message from Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones, which simply says, “This must stop.”

Exactly.