Milwaukee Bucks demand Wisconsin legislature reconvene after boycott
Players on the Milwaukee Bucks called Wednesday for the Wisconsin legislature to reconvene to address police brutality and criminal justice reform after boycotting their NBA playoff game to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable,” Bucks guard George Hill said in a statement to reporters as several of his teammates stood behind him. “For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take meaningful measures to address police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.”
“We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action and remember to vote on November 3,” Hill added.
Full statement from the Milwaukee Bucks: pic.twitter.com/jjGEyVcCmB
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020
The demand came as Kenosha, Wis., is gripped by protests and violence amid a summer of a demonstrations over racial injustice and police killings of Black Americans. The unrest in Kenosha stemmed from an incident on Sunday in which a police officer, identified Wednesday evening as Rusten Sheskey, shot Blake, 29, seven times as he attempted to enter his vehicle.
Cellphone footage of the scene spread rapidly on social media and reignited protests in U.S. cities. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are among the officials who have called for holding the involved officers accountable.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the incident. State Attorney General Josh Kaul said Wednesday that Blake was critically wounded.
Blake’s family has said he is currently paralyzed from the waist down.
The Bucks’ decision to boycott its playoff game against the Orlando Magic was followed by an announcement from the NBA that all of Wednesday night’s contests would be postponed.
The Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds also reportedly postponed their MLB game scheduled for Wednesday evening.
Bucks players said their focus could not be on basketball when there has been no action despite what they described as an “overwhelming plea for change.”
“Some things are bigger than basketball,” Alex Lasry, senior vice president of the Bucks, tweeted.
The move by the Bucks was applauded by other NBA players and league representatives. The WNBA, which has dedicated its 2020 season to the Black Lives Matter movement, announced shortly after that it is also postponing Wednesday’s games.
Kenosha District Attorney Michael Graveley praised the Bucks’ boycott while offering updates on the Blake shooting and protests, calling it “gratifying” to see people “say that what they know about this case, and the bigger issues it reflects, are things that they felt so strongly about that they decided to make a dramatic statement.”
Protests have racked Kenosha in the days since Blake’s shooting. Widespread property damage was reported at local businesses, and Evers has mobilized the National Guard.
Two people were fatally shot at a protest in Kenosha Tuesday night, Illinois police said Wednesday they had arrested Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, in connection with the case.
The Wisconsin legislature adjourned following a special legislative session focused on its presidential primary in April. It is not expected to resume session until after Election Day, according to a local NBC affiliate.