People around the United States joined together to protest police brutality over the weekend, ignited by the killing of Minneapolis native George Floyd at the hands of police. Floyd, 46, was pinned the ground for nine minutes by police officer Derek Chauvin as he struggled for air and eventually died, and video of his death sparked outrage on social media and led to protesters taking to the streets with the message that Black Lives Matter.
Chauvin and the three other officers on the scene were subsequently fired, and he has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and arrested.
In the image at the top of this page, Lakers star LeBron James can be seen in 2014, when as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers he was among the players to wear one of the “I Can’t Breathe” shirts distributed by Jarrett Jack to honor and protest the death of Eric Garner at the hands of police. Garner could be heard saying those words in video of his death, and six years later, Floyd was saying the same thing as he suffocated. James was among the many to see the parallels, posting a photo of himself in the shirt with the caption “STILL!!!!”
It was far from the only way members of the Lakers would comment on Floyd’s death, and the protests it fueled over the weekend. By Sunday night, every member of the full-time, 15-man roster had posted this message in a show of solidarity:
Nearly every member of the team also took to their social media platforms to comment on Floyd’s death and the protests surrounding it in one form or another, with Kyle Kuzma posting the most extensive thoughts:
View this post on Instagram
Had a heavy heart last night. This just ain’t right. Violence is never the answer on both sides, but how the hell do you want us to say enough is enough? Kneel? Not good enough? March? Not enough? Say please? This is all disturbing that it’s gotten to this. We all say as public figures we need to use our platforms to help inspire & give positive messages, but I have to ask the question to myself... Is it enough? During a global pandemic we as a country that should have been coming together as one, but we are divided once again because of the dislike and hate of one’s hue. Seriously? 400+ years. Yes there has been progress and we must recognize but we have been told that it takes time. Our great grandparents said it. Grandparents said it. Parents said it. WE ARE SAYING IT!! Enough is enough. Stand for something or fall for everything. ✊ Please stay safe everyone!
But he was far from the only member of the team to comment in one way or another:
Dion Waiters joined with Lou Williams in pledging to donate money pic.twitter.com/VINQ8Puvwf— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) May 31, 2020
Kostas Antetokounmpo reshared Nike's video on Instagram pic.twitter.com/Bn3fqpyEmC— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) May 31, 2020
Talen Horton-Tucker has as well, in addition to retweeting the Lakers' statement: pic.twitter.com/KVSKRnZLuW— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) May 31, 2020
Lakers assistant Phil Handy posted a video saying that "every human should be in a fight against racism," in addition to resharing images of the protests and of #GeorgeFloydhttps://t.co/AdGBitYILR pic.twitter.com/2KCb0G9ZmV— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) May 31, 2020
The organization also put out a statement that was re-shared by both Jeanie and Jesse Buss on their Instagram accounts:
James himself wrapped up his weekend of posts with a critique of the media, sharing a peaceful protest video taken by a local media outlet in Colorado and saying that he didn’t think the media would show images like that on their airwaves:
Media showing this???? I bet you they’re not. ♂️! You know why, cause this is unity, peaceful, beautiful and love! https://t.co/QkgH2SFmON— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 1, 2020
On Sunday night though, on NBC’s Los Angeles affiliate, James got his wish:
NBCLA just played the protest video that LeBron tweeted earlier, crediting him for bringing it to their attention. pic.twitter.com/fDMztTBBPP— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) June 1, 2020
There still exist those who want athletes to stick to sports. This power to help change the conversation and make people consider perspectives they hadn’t before, or influence coverage in a direction they feel is important, is exactly why they shouldn’t and won’t.