Following days of protests in response to the killing of George Floyd by officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department, golf legend Tiger Woods shared his response to the tragic event and the outrage that followed, per Golf Digest. In a statement shared online, Woods encouraged his fans and followers to continue their struggle for a “safer, unified society” while also keeping things peaceful.
Woods opened his statement by expressing his shock at the actions taken by the Minneapolis police.
“My heart goes out to George Floyd, his loved ones and all of us who are hurting right now. I have always had the utmost respect for our law enforcement. They train so diligently to understand how, when and where to use force. This shocking tragedy clearly crossed that line.”
A video of Floyd’s death shows Chauvin pressing his knee against the victim’s neck for more than eight minutes. The killing sparked protests across the nation — demonstrations which have sometimes evolved into looting, destruction of property, and fatal violence.
The legendary golfer went on to recall a lesson he learned during the Los Angeles riots in 1992, writing that “education” is the best response to such traumatizing events. Woods was 16 years old and living in Anaheim, California, when the riots — which emerged over the acquittal of police officers accused of using excessive force on Rodney King — broke out. After six days of rioting in the Los Angeles area, 63 people had been killed and more than 12,000 had been arrested.
“We can make our own points without burning the very neighborhoods that we live in. I hope that through constructive, honest conversations we can build a safer, unified society.”
Woods made history when he won the Masters in 1997, becoming the first African-American golfer to win a major championship. Despite being an important figure and breaking barriers, Woods has rarely commented on social or political issues during his career. He does devote time to his TGR Foundation, which focuses on providing STEM curriculum and college-access programs for underserved children. The foundation — established in 1996 by Woods and his late father, Earl — recently celebrated sponsoring 1 million students.
Woods is among many celebrities across the United States who have expressed their anger at Floyd’s death. Celebs such as Ariana Grande, Jamie Foxx, and Michael B. Jordan have participated in protests, per E! Online. Of those who have not taken to the streets, Steve Carrell, Seth Rogan, and Janelle Monae have donated to organizations dedicated to securing bail for protesters, per People.