Many pro athletes have taken to social media speaking out against police brutality and racism in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic death at the hands of several police officers in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.
According to a report from The New York Times, evidence from a private autopsy revealed that Floyd’s death was a homicide and explained that he died from mechanical asphyxia, not only from one officer, Derek Chauvin, who pinned him down with a knee on his neck, but also from the two other officers at the scene who also held him down to the ground, constricting the flow of oxygen to his lungs and blood flow to his brain.
George Floyd died before paramedics arrived, while crying out, “I can’t breathe.” The four officers associated with the death of George Floyd have been fired and his death has revived nationwide outcry against police violence and brutality against African Americans in the United States.
Many LGBTQ pro athletes have taken to social media, expressing their outrage and desire for real change in the U.S.
Rebekkah Brunson, the out basketball coach and the only five time WNBA champion, shared her anger and frustration with the world via Twitter. She said, “I try very hard not to generalize my anger but this hits different. It’s hard not to generalize when you see what happened yesterday to #GeorgeFloyd Watching one officer kill a man while his “brothers” sit and watch doing nothing. It was inhumanly sickening. I’m sick!”
NFL veteran, father, and multi talented LGBTQ advocate Esera Tuaolo praised Kaepernick in a tweet and spoke up, voicing his support for his African American brothers and sisters.
He said, “People still ask me about Colin Kaepernick and why he took a knee during the National Anthem. WELL NOW YOU KNOW. Police brutality towards African Americans and ethnic people. Thanks brother.” In another tweet, he said, “Pacific Islander for BLACK LIVES MATTER!” In an instagram post, he urged his followers to vote for change.
Lesbian Washington Mystics guard, Natasha Cloud, has been passionately vocalizing her concerns about police violence and taking a stand for social justice. In particular, she criticized silence in citizens and the neutrality of those who refuse to speak up and take a definitive stand against police brutality.
On her Twitter account she shared a quote, “Your silence is a knee on my neck” and in an essay for The Players’ Tribune, she wrote: “…those racist cops who keep killing us? There’s way too many of them, that’s for sure. But we’re going to keep on speaking out, keep on shining a light at their behavior….. and eventually we’re going to get them the hell out of the paint. Relatively speaking, that one’s easy. But you know what’s not as easy?? You know what’s harder to shine a light on? The millions of people who are helping to protect those racist cops, and who are helping to insulate those in power, by staying “neutral.” ”
Professional women’s NBA player Chiney Ogwumike provided a powerful example of the support American athletes are showing in this devastating and challenging time in U.S. history. She said, “The reason why you see athletes leading the charge when it comes to social change is because at the root of it all — it is in our DNA. We are team players. We are wired to care for the last player on the bench as much as we care about ourselves.”
In addition to the LGBTQ voices, one of the world’s greatest basketball stars, LeBron James has actively spoken out on his Instagram page where he shared a photo of athlete Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the recitation of the national anthem opposite a chilling photo of officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on George Floyd’s neck with the caption, “This… …Is Why”. The courageous Kaepernick has remained unsigned ever since his act of protest in 2016.