That drop of water that fell softly to the ground wasn’t precipitation, it was a tear. It was a sign that something went terribly wrong in the birthplace of America over the weekend.
What should have been peaceful protests about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 while in police custody — and too many other incidents like his — turned into riots that featured many looting episodes. Years of emotional abuse were released by the masses and the sight wasn’t pretty.
As a result, National Guard soldiers have been deployed in Philadelphia to help authorities restore order.
The sports world took note of it all. Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris participated in a peaceful demonstration. Newly signed New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, who was a team leader on the Philadelphia Eagles, also marched in a separate protest.
In several cities, such as Minneapolis, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles, people of all races marched to protest the killings of Black people at the hands of police. You know it’s got to be important when Michael Jordan, regarded by some as the greatest basketball player of all time, makes a statement.
The GOAT, who didn’t say a mumbling word when kids were killing each other for a pair of his Air Jordan sneakers, made a profound statement about the issue.
“I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry,” the former NBA star and current Charlotte Hornets owner said in a statement posted on the Jordan brand’s social media accounts and the team’s Twitter account.
“I see and feel everyone’s pain, outrage and frustration. I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough,” he added.
“I don’t have the answers, but our collective voices show strength and the inability to be divided by others. We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn our backs on senseless brutality. We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability,” Jordan’s statement said. “Our unified voice needs to put pressure on our leaders to change our laws, or else we need to use our vote to create systemic change. Every one of us needs to be part of the solution, and we must work together to ensure justice for all. My heart goes out to the family of George Floyd and to the countless others whose lives have been brutally and senselessly taken through acts of racism and injustice.”
Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. John Crawford. Freddie Gray. Michael Brown. Sandra Bland. The list of African Americans who have died at the hands of the police is seemingly endless.
According to an Aljazeera news report, between 2013 and 2019, police in the United States have killed 7,666 people. The data were compiled by Mapping Police Violence, a research and advocacy group. The number of police killings in the U.S. disproportionately affects African Americans. Despite only making up 13% of the U.S. population, African Americans are two-and-a-half times as likely as white Americans to be killed by the police.
That’s why former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the national anthem, aka the “Star-Spangled Banner.” That’s why Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and organizations such as the 76ers have made critical statements about the treatment of African Americans.
“We must stay united and strong during the conflict and hurt we are experiencing. The 76ers are committed to using our voice and taking action to support and drive change that is long overdue,” the NBA team wrote.
The last 11 words of the Pledge of Allegiance are powerful: “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The athletic community is making sure people know its true meaning.