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.
"I CAN'T BREATHE": Video shows George Floyd, a black man that police say was a possible "forgery" suspect, pleading with Minneapolis cops for air as they press a knee into his neck. Floyd loses consciousness and later dies.— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 26, 2020
Click here for the full video: https://t.co/gD3hBFhbgL pic.twitter.com/h5SabBHR7M
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.
I try very hard not to generalize my anger but this hits different. It’s hard not to generalize when you see what happened yesterday to #GeorgeFloyd Watching one officer kill a man while his “brothers” sit and watch doing nothing. It was inhumanly sickening. I’m sick!— rebekkah brunson (@twin1532) May 27, 2020
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.
#DirtyCops #Karens #ArmedMilitias #ICantBreathe #WhichOneOfUsIsNext #WhereIsJustice #BeingFiredIsNotEnough #SystemicRacism #ConstantAnger #America— Jason Collins (@jasoncollins98) May 27, 2020
Former NFL lineman Esera Tuaolo expressed solidarity with other people of color and also applauded Kaepernick’s message.
People still ask me about Colin Kaepernick and why he took a knee during the National Anthem. WELL NOW YOU KNOW. Police brutality towards African Americans and ethnic people. Thanks brother. colinkaepernick_… https://t.co/0Svp8z1jrH— Esera Tuaolo (@eseratuaolo) May 27, 2020
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.
#AllLivesMatter ppl our lives do matter which is why we don’t have to say it. The lives of black ppl are taken for granted.— Brock McGillis (@brock_mcgillis) May 27, 2020
They’re killed at random traffic stops & for jogging, police are called for watching birds in a park. We don’t need to say it, they do. #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/nYNlsQvRmp
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.”