Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey has seen the video of George Floyd struggling to breathe under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, and Floyd’s ensuing death. He paid attention to news regarding the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor earlier this year, too.
“It’s not just one incident,” Casey said Wednesday during a conversation on Tim & Sid. “It’s so many things over and over and over again. Some of them overt, some of them are very subtle.”
In response to the outcry following Floyd’s death, Casey said he wants to use his platform to “touch a few hearts.” That includes sitting down with Pistons owner Tom Gores and Detroit Police Department chief James Craig to discuss potential changes in policy, particularly with training.
“Because that’s where it starts,” Casey said. “How they train, what the rules are, the policies that they have, to get those changed. Or get some real teeth in them if (trainees) decide to go off and go rogue and go to be bad cops.”
Casey believes this localized approach — representing Detroit’s NBA team, addressing Detroit’s police department — is how action must be taken. Trying to change the country all at once is unreasonable.
He hopes coaches and team executives in other cities will follow suit. Particularly white coaches, including Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, who are among the leaders of the recently-formed coaches committee focused on racial injustice and reform.
“That’s important that the white coaches step up and speak out against racism and injustice,” Casey said. “That’s when real change can happen and we start changing things.”
When Casey scrolls online, he sees the protests that are spanning the U.S. and around the world. They remind him of the civil rights marches in the 1960s, led by Martin Luther King Jr.
The difference now, Casey said, is the diversity that’s visible within the protests.
“Today, you see every colour, every race, every religion walking up and down the street, protesting for what is right,” he said. “So that gives me hope.”
But he wants activists to go a step further. He wants people to petition their local police departments and governments in search of palpable change. NBA coaches aren’t the only ones who can make a difference.
“We gotta keep doing this,” Casey said. “When the cameras go off in Minneapolis, when the cameras go off at the marches and protests…continue to beat the drum.
“Awareness hopefully will lead to change in laws and policies and procedures in the police departments. I think that’s where these conversations with friends and people who understand and have empathy will take it.”