As the horrific images from the Capitol were beamed across the United States and the globe, Black athletes — like many of us — were struck by the images of white insurrectionists being allowed to storm unchallenged into one of the country’s symbols of democracy and threaten the safety of members of Congress and the Vice President, and their staffs, who were ratifying the presidential results.
They couldn’t help but contrast the scene — white nationalists marching through one of the most well-protected buildings in the country with Trump and confederate flags, breaking windows, smashing doors, invading offices and, in several cases, carrying out mementos — with what they saw this summer when authorities used rubber bullets, batons and pepper spray on peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters.
Black athletes quickly — and rightly — concluded they were watching white privilege at a peak.
Rioters — who weren’t invited onto the grounds by Capitol police — broke down barriers set up for crowd control, scaled the monstrous white wall of the Capitol, stole a podium and walked around the Congressional hallways uninhibited, some with high-powered guns. So far, there have been 50 people arrested, according to law enforcement and most of those were for violation of the district’s 6 p.m. curfew on Wednesday night.
Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said the response by law enforcement highlighted the double standard that existed.
“Can’t believe what I’m witnessing on television and social media from protestors participating in the trump rally,” McLeod tweeted. “The reaction by police would be completely different if these members were marching in support of #blm”
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Former Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith shared the same sentiment as McLeod, wondering how something like this could have happened.
“They really ran up in the capital building with no repercussions,” Smith tweeted. “I thought that place was just as secure as a prison. I’m still in shock.”
Former Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas, now with the Carolina Panthers, said he did not see defensive measures being used at all — tactics that were used on Blacks.
“Crazy I see no tear gas, no shots or nothing,” Douglas tweeted.
These statements of frustration were warranted and cannot be justified by those who see otherwise. Unfortunately, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III’s tweet about the current state of affairs sums up what has been festering for a long time but denied by many.
“The difference in the treatment between races in America is on full display,” Griffin III tweeted. “No one’s right to protest was denied.”
NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. before becoming the first Black head coach in the history of the four major North American sports, didn’t hold back Wednesday:
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers shared Russell’s concerns:
Wizards guard Russell Westbrook is in his first season playing for Washington, giving him a a front-row seat to the unrest in our nation’s capital. Per the Washington Post:
“It’s very unfortunate to see if those roles were reversed, if those were African Americans and Black people, it would be totally different,” he said. “Unfortunately, there’s so much going on, there are so many people losing their lives, whether it’s covid, losing their family members. Sometimes, we can’t control civilians and what they do, we can control what we do to make change in our society. And that’s the biggest thing that we can do now.”
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, one of the NBA’s most vocal leaders when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, talked of two classes in our society, separate and unequal. Per NESN:
“In one America you get killed by sleeping in your car, selling cigarettes or playing in your backyard. In another America, you get to storm the Capitol and no tear gas, no massive arrests, none of that. So I think it’s obvious, it’s 2021, I don’t think anything has changed. We want to still acknowledge that, we want to still push for the change that we’re looking for, but as of yet we have not seen it. But we want to continue to keep conversations alive and do our part.”
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