On Tuesday, a Minneapolis jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.
Floyd’s death touched off nationwide protests about police brutality and social justice, and shortly thereafter the Milwaukee Bucks and the NBA and the players association released statements.
The Bucks statement read:
“The Bucks organization is encouraged that justice was served by the Derek Chauvin verdict in the horrific murder of George Floyd. While this decision provides accountability to this police officer for his heinous crime, we must continue to address police officers’ excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with people of color.
“Reoccurring examples of deadly use of force by police officers have become common place, including in our backyard of Kenosha, Minneapolis and so many other parts of the country.
“The Bucks organization remains strongly committed to addressing issues of police brutality, social injustice, and racism and continue to demand real change for African Americans and all marginalized members of our community. We hope this verdict offers a sense of justice to the Floyd family and our thoughts go out to them for their loss.”
Just over two months later the Bucks initiated three days of game postponements during the postseason while in the “bubble” in Florida following their wildcat strike to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey.
This season, the Bucks discussed not playing against Detroit when no charges were filed in the Blake case but instead knelt for seven seconds with the Pistons once the game began.
“It’s an ongoing discussion, ongoing topic for us,” Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst said Monday before a verdict had been reached. “I can tell you from my perspective, to be part of a team in the Milwaukee Bucks, a league in the NBA that is progressive and that really focuses on social justice and education and mentorship around this topic, I just think it’s remarkable that we get to work in an environment and be part of something where we invest in our communities and we’re trying to improve hope and improve togetherness and really impact change in that area. We’ve spent time, obviously, on it.
“(The) Bucks organization and the league again, I think has spent a tremendous amount of time really working this topic. That’s not new just today because of kind of the pending decisions coming out with that trial.”
The NBA and its players association released a joint statement from NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
“George Floyd’s murder was a flash point for how we look at race and justice in our country, and we are pleased that justice appears to have been served. But we also recognize that there is much work to be done and the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association, together with our newly-formed Social Justice Coalition, will redouble our efforts to advocate for meaningful change in the areas of criminal justice and policing.”
In a video Zoom conference before the Milwaukee Brewers took the field against the Padres on Wednesday night in San Diego, manager Craig Counsell offered his thoughts.
“I think it takes you back to what we all learned last year and how it changed us and changed sports,” Counsell said “Today is another reminder of how it’s going to change us moving forward. We have to continue to work to be better, to understand these issues of social justice and inclusion. And how we as people can be better at it.”
Green Bay Packers react
Over the last year, the Green Bay Packers also created social justice initiatives, called for change and teamed up with the Bucks and Brewers to create an Equity League, “a networking initiative to increase investment in businesses started by Black and Latinx entrepreneurs.”
On the field, the team elected to not take the field for the national anthem.
Following the guilty verdicts on Tuesday, tight end Marcedes Lewis tweeted “Justice. The marathon continues fr (for real)” while linebacker Tipa Galea’i tweeted “LOCK HIM UP!“
Players and staff for the teams also reacted on social media:
Forward Bobby Portis:
Sideline reporter Zora Stephenson:
Bucks player development & video assistant Sidney Dobner:
Green Bay Packers tight end Marcedes Lewis:
Packers linebacker De’Jon Harris:
Packers linebacker Tipa Galea’i: