Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri released a statement on Thursday to address the recently released video of an altercation with an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy during last June’s championship celebration.
“The video sadly demonstrates how horribly I was treated by a law enforcement officer last year in the midst of my team, the Toronto Raptors, winning its first world championship,” Ujiri wrote. “It was an exhilarating moment of achievement for our organization, for our players, for our city, for our country, and for me personally, given my long-tenured professional journey in the NBA. Yet, unfortunately, I was reminded in that moment that despite all of my hard work and success, there are some people, including those who are supposed to protect us, who will always and only see me as something that is unworthy of respectful engagement. And, there’s only one indisputable reason why that is the case — because I am Black.”
While trying to join his team on the floor to celebrate the Raptors’ first-ever championship, Ujiri was stopped by Deputy Alan Strickland and twice shoved in the chest by the officer, despite having his credential in-hand.
Strickland later accused Ujiri of being the aggressor in the scuffle, and filed a lawsuit against him last year. The body-cam video of the altercation, which was released by Ujiri’s lawyers earlier this week, shows that Ujiri was trying to walk through the crowd and onto the court before being pushed by Strickland.
Ujiri filed a countersuit in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday.
“What saddens me most about this ordeal is that the only reason why I am getting the justice I deserve in this moment is because of my success,” Ujiri’s statement continued. “Because I’m the President of an NBA team, I had access to resources that ensured I could demand and fight for my justice. So many of my brothers and sisters haven’t had, don’t have, and won’t have the same access to resources that assured my justice. And that’s why Black Lives Matter.”
Ujiri closed with a call to action for everyone to push for justice for all Black lives.
“And that’s why it’s important for all of us to keep demanding justice. Justice for George. Justice for Breonna. Justice for Elijah. Justice for far too many Black lives that mattered,” he wrote. “And justice for Black people around the world, who need our voices and our compassion to save their lives.”