Story at a glance

  • A largely white mob of President Trump’s supporters waged an insurrection against the Capitol on Wednesday.
  • Members of the crowd assaulted Capitol Police with various weapons, but officers eventually evacuated the rioters with relatively few arrests.
  • Black athletes were among those who questioned law enforcement’s ability to use restraint with white offenders compared to Black Americans.

"Do you understand now?" 

Lebron James repeated the question printed on his T-shirt, which read in smaller letters, “In memoriam of the countless Black lives lost to police brutality and racial injustice.” 

“We live in two Americas and that was a prime example of that yesterday. If you don’t understand or see that then you need to take a step back. Not just one step but four or five or even 10 steps backward,” James said Thursday night after the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the San Antonio Spurs. “How do you want your kids or grandkids to live in this beautiful country? Because yesterday was not it.”


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The example James pointed to was an insurrection on the United States Capitol on Wednesday by a largely white mob of President Trump’s supporters, only 14 of whom were arrested by Capitol Police. To Lebron and others, the televised attack showed the inequality in law enforcement’s treatment of white versus Black Americans. 

On Thursday, players and coaches from both teams locked arms in a circle at midcourt as the national anthem played at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, where protests were held the night before.

 

As the nation reeled from the attack on the Capitol, NBA players and coaches made a joint statement before they took the court that same night.  

"2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed. We play tonight's game with a heavy heart after yesterday's decision in Kenosha, and knowing that protesters in our nation's capital are treated differently by political leaders depending on what side of certain issues they are on. The drastic difference between the way protesters this past spring and summer were treated and the encouragement given to today's protestors who acted illegally just shows how much more work we have to do,” said the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.


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This summer, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 of their playoff series against the Orlando Magic over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Celtics went on to defeat the Heat in a close game Thursday night, the players saying in the statement, “We have decided to play tonight’s game to try to bring joy into people’s lives. But we must not forget the injustices in our society, and we will continue to use our voices and our platform to highlight these issues and do everything we can to work for a more equal and just America.”

Their sentiments were echoed by players from other professional sports leagues, including the NFL, which has been criticized in the past for its attitudes towards players’ rights to political speech. 


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Published on Jan 08, 2021