A central tenet of the NBA’s return-to-play plan in Orlando Fla., was ensuring playoff games would neither distract from, nor derail, players’ efforts to advocate for racial justice and systemic change.
In the wake of another video emerging showing police shooting a Black man, this time in Wisconsin, Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill expressed his frustration over how little he could do while in the Orlando bubble — and questioned the decision to go there in the first place.
“We can’t do anything,” Hill told reporters when asked about the shooting on Monday. “First of all, we shouldn’t have even came to this damn place, to be honest. I think coming just took all the focal points off what the issues are. But we’re here. So it is what it is. We can’t do anything from right here, but I think definitely, when it’s all settled, some things have to be done.
“I think this world has to change. I think our police department has to change. Us as a society has to change and, right now, we’re not seeing any of that. Lives are being taken, as we speak, day in and day out, and there’s no consequence or accountability for it, and that’s what has to change.”
Video of the shooting surfaced online Sunday night and spread quickly on social media. It shows a Black man, identified as Jacob Blake, rounding the front of a silver SUV with two Kenosha, Wis., police officers following close behind with their weapons drawn. When Blake opens the door and attempts to get inside, one of the officers grabs Blake by his shirt from behind and several shots are heard on the video. According to a lawyer for the family, three of Blake’s children were in the back of the SUV he was attempting to enter when the shooting occurred.
As of Monday evening, Blake remains in serious condition. The officers seen on video were placed on administrative leave while state authorities continue the investigation. The city of Kenosha declared emergency curfews after protests took place through Sunday night and into Monday morning.
“It’s just sickening,” Hill said. “It’s heartless. It’s a [expletive] up situation. Like I said, you’re supposed to look at the police to protect and serve. Now it’s looked at [as] harass or shoot. To almost take a guy’s life — thank God he’s still alive. I know the cops are probably upset he’s still alive, because I know they surely tried to kill him.
“But to almost take a man’s life, especially in front of one’s kids, that wasn’t resisting, in his back at point-blank range, is a heartless and gutless situation. We need some justice for that.”
Footage of Blake’s shooting comes after months-long protests across the United States, spurred by the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis.
In addition to Hill, Wisconsin-based teams the Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers issued statements on the shooting.
“The Bucks organization is praying for the recovery of Jacob Blake, who was shot multiple times in the back by a police officer at point-blank range in Kenosha, Wisconsin yesterday,” the Bucks wrote in their statement. “Our hearts go out to his family and friends. We stand firmly against re-occurring issues of excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with the Black community.”