Ever since the Minneapolis, Minnesota, police murdered George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old Black man, on May 25th, the nation has been in a state of unrest. Folks have been protesting for justice nation-wide and exclaiming that Black lives matter. People of all races and backgrounds have unified against racism. The calls to reallocate police budgets for communities in need and to end police brutality are clear.
However, even after all of this national attention to police brutality on Black bodies, it happened again on August 23rd. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, the police shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old unarmed Black man, in the back seven times. This excessive shooting occurred while Blake was getting into his vehicle with his three children. Following surgery and time in the ICU, Blake is paralyzed from the wait down and handcuffed to his hospital bed. Many might wonder when this time of protesting and unrest will end. For protestors and activists, the answer is when the police brutality stops.
Green Bay Packers, Professional Sports Teams Stand With Black Lives Matter
The Bucks’ decision to boycott their playoff game led many other teams to make the same decisions. In addition to the Bucks vs. Orlando Magic going on strike against their playoff game, so did the following NBA teams: Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers. They are calling for real change to give BIPOC the same civil rights as white people. The WNBA also postponed all three of their games on August 26th to stand up for social justice and speak out against police brutality.
As Jemele Hill writes in The Atlantic, “NBA players put America on notice. They want to protect Black lives, and threatening an industry’s money and the public’s entertainment was the only option left.” NBA and WNBA players remain on strike. On August 28th, the NBA announced they would resume the playoffs on Saturday. According to CBSN Boston, “The announcement was made as part of a joint release from NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, which also pledged further commitments to social justice issues.”
In addition to professional basketball teams taking a stand, several MLB and MLS teams refused to play games on August 26th as well. Seven MLB teams continue to demand change and equity by postponing even more games.
The Green Bay Packers Stand with the Black Lives Matter Movement
After the initial civil unrest following Floyd’s murder, the Green Bay Packers spoke out in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement. Fans might remember seeing this video:
Enough is enough.
It's time for change. pic.twitter.com/AS7wP9qz2x
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) June 4, 2020
Packers Reminding Fans of Their Stance Against Racism
On August 27th, Head Coach Matt LaFleur announced that the Packers would cancel practice to hold a discussion on racial injustice. He quickly realized that after many players and coaches sharing their personal stories, the team was not in the right head space to practice. The team hosted a screening of the Ava DuVernay documentary “13th” for any players or personnel who wanted to participate. While LaFleur is aware he has a lot to learn, he is supporting his guys and standing on the right side of history. The media specifically asked LaFleur about his response to Adrian Amos‘ tweet:
I’m not here solely your entertainment.. I’m a Black Man. No I won’t shut up when it comes to my community and the problems we face as a whole.. if that bothers you . Then don’t watch me don’t follow me don’t support me.. if you are not here to help then leave. I will be ok
— Adrian Amos (@_SmashAmos31) August 27, 2020
LaFleur said, “Yeah, I mean that’s real, and a lot of our players are feeling like that. I 100% support what they’re going through and I just want to be a positive influence and do whatever I can to help. Again, everybody should be treated equally. And it shouldn’t matter where you come from, how much money you have, what your race is. It’s problematic to me that, unfortunately, within our world that not everybody sees it that way, and so we’ve gotta do whatever we can to help change that. I think it’s something that’s not gonna be easy. It’s been going on for years and years and years, and how do we change a way of thinking as a society?”
The Packers Head Coach also said this will not be a one-day thing. The team will continue to hold discussions about how they can do their part in the fight for equity for all. They may even cancel practice or games in the future. LaFleur said he’s in full support of his players using their voices to call for equal civil rights for all. They are not afraid to offend fans by letting the world know: racial injustice is more important than football.
The Packers Will not “Stick to Sports”
Mike Clemens asked LaFleur if he believes the “stick to sports” era is over, noting that it’s been four years since Colin Kaepernick took a knee. The Packers Head Coach stated that players and coaches are also human beings with emotions. Nobody wants to be defined solely by his job. Those in professional sports cannot be expected to turn off their opinions, feelings, and thoughts simply to be entertainment.
The Packers do not yet have a concrete plan, but they are taking things day by day. Green Bay’s players are in touch with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Bucks in an effort to join forces in support of Black Lives Matter. LaFleur is listening to his players. He recognizes that antiracism work and the mental/emotional health of his players are much bigger than a game. He maintains this is an issue of humanity.
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