In a video message shared by the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, the NBA team’s coach Gregg Popovich said that he was “embarrassed as a white person” after the “lynching” of George Floyd, Reuters reported.
Floyd, an African-American, died last month after Derek Chauvin, a white officer with the Minnesota Police Department, knelt on his neck. The 46-year-old’s death sparked nationwide protests against police brutality, with thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets to call for justice.
“In a strange, counter-intuitive sort of way, the best teaching moment of this most recent tragedy… was the look on the officer’s face,” Popovich said, adding that Chauvin was completely “nonchalant” as he pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck.
“I think I’m just embarrassed as a white person to know that that can happen. To actually watch a lynching.”
“I never thought I’d see that with my own eyes, in real time,” the San Antonio Spurs coach added.
Last week, some of the protests turned violent, with hundreds of demonstrators clashing with the police. State governments responded accordingly, deploying security forces to crack down on the protests.
Governors in the states of Minnesota, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Wisconsin, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Tennessee, California, and Missouri deployed their National Guards to disperse the demonstrators. The violent clashes did little to diminish the protests, resulting in more accusations of police brutality.
Popovich called on all white Americans to speak out against police brutality. The coach said that white Americans need to speak truth to power because black Americans have been doing so for the past 400 years.
“The only reason this nation has made the progress it has is because of the persistence, patience and effort of black people,” he said.
“Our country is in trouble. And the basic reason is race,” Popovich concluded his emotional plea.
“It’s got to be us that speak truth to power, that call it out no matter the consequences. We have to not let anything go. Our country is in trouble and the basic reason is race.”#SpursVoices pic.twitter.com/uTyOIzGnTg
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) June 6, 2020
Multiple NBA figures have spoken out since Floyd’s death. Notably, Lakers’ legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote an opinion piece for The Los Angeles Times, reflecting on recent violence against African Americans. Abdul-Jabbar concluded that the demonstrations need to be supported, despite the fact that some “desperate souls” have taken advantage of the situation to loot and destroy businesses.
Most Americans seem to agree with Popovich and believe race was a factor in Floyd’s death. According to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll released last week, 61 percent of Americans believe race was a “major factor” in Floyd’s death, while 77 percent think Chauvin is guilty of murder.
Furthermore, 62 percent of respondents said that the criminal justice system treats African Americans worse than white Americans.