Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, took issue Wednesday with how the unruly pro-Trump mob that invaded the U.S. Capitol was treated by police compared to the treatment of Black people, in what she called a double standard.
Roberts told ESPN she talked to NBA players and their conversation kept coming back comparing what was happening in D.C. to how Jacob Blake was treated by Kenosha, Wis., police.
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Blake, who is Black, was shot seven times over the summer amid an incident with police officers. No officers were charged in the shooting. The Blake shooting led to a three-day pause in the NBA as teams boycotted games in order to send a message.
“Today started yesterday, when the Jacob Blake shooting was being justified, although I’m not sure there was a single human surprised at that finding,” Roberts said. “Every single player that contacted me — or that I contacted — saw the same connection to the Blake shooting being justified. We were watching these people essentially committing treason at the Capitol and I have yet to hear about a single shot being fired.”
“We saw a Black police officer being chased and players said to me, ‘So this is what they can do?’ And people don’t get this privilege stuff? I know how they’re feeling. I am so angry and pained — and refusing to cry. It reminded me of something that James Baldwin said, when asked what it was like to be a Negro in the United States of America. He said that if you’re conscious of what’s going on in the country, and you’re a Negro, you’re in a constant state of rage.
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“On a day like this, it’s the first thing that comes to mind. And all I can say is that I’m grateful knowing that hopefully nobody who looks like me is going to Capitol Hill to respond to this, because if they do, you’ll see a different response by law enforcement. You know it — and I know it.”
Police said early Thursday that at least four people, including one woman who was shot and killed, died during the unrest at the U.S. Capitol. Dozens of others were arrested.
No NBA games were postponed because of the events in Washington. The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics released a joint statement on the issue.
“2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed,” the statement said. “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,” they continued, “and the encouragement given to today’s protesters who acted illegally just shows how much more work we have to do.”
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The statement continued: “We have decided to play tonight’s game to try and 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. #BLACKLIVESSTILLMATTER.”