The Milwaukee Bucks staged a walkout during Wednesday’s NBA playoff game against the Orlando Magic in response to the recent police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which has resulted in days of unrest.
The Bucks players formalized the decision not to play before tipoff in Orlando, sources told The Athletic and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Magic’s players reportedly wanted to play, but then returned to the locker room.
“Some things are bigger than basketball. The stand taken today by the players and org shows that we’re fed up,” Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry tweeted. “Enough is enough. Change needs to happen. I’m incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100% behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change.”
The Bucks are geographically the closest team to Kenosha, where a police officer recently shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back over the weekend while his children were nearby.
Video of the shooting that surfaced Sunday night has prompted nightly protests in Kenosha that turned violent last night when armed white vigilantes arrived.
“We’re tired of the killings and the injustice,” Bucks point guard George Hill told The Undefeated on Wednesday.
The Bucks have a personal history with police brutality. Milwaukee police officers arrested and used a Taster on Bucks guard Sterling Brown in January 2018. The officers confronted Brown after seeing his car parked in between two handicapped spots in a parking lot. After a verbal altercation, more officers arrived at the scene and kneeled on Brown’s neck while subduing him with a Taser.
Brown said in July that the city of Milwaukee offered to pay him $400,000 to stay quiet about the incident.
“I rejected the offer because I have a responsibility to be a voice and help change the narrative for my people,” Brown wrote in the Players Tribune. “In order to do so I have to tell my story, so dialogue and conversations about police brutality can help influence and change a corrupt system. It goes deeper than me just illegally parking.”
According to The Athletic, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder players are also planning a walkout, rather than playing game five of their series on Wednesday.
Doctors have said that Blake is paralyzed from the waist down thanks to the shooting, with injuries to one arm, his kidneys, liver and spinal cord. Attorneys for Blake’s family said he was trying to deescalate a domestic situation when he walked away from police and opened the driver’s side door of an SUV, in which his three young children were waiting. According to the video, one officer appeared to then shoot Blake seven times in the back.
The shooting was akin the excessive force repeatedly used by white police officers against Black people, recently against George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. Protests against police brutality and for Black lives spread throughout the nation after Floyd’s death, and are still ongoing in many places.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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