Jets’ Wheeler ‘heartbroken’ over racism in U.S., says ‘America is not OK’

Winnipeg Jets right wing Blake Wheeler celebrates after scoring a goal on the Minnesota Wild in the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in St. Paul, Minn. (Andy Clayton-King/AP)

Winnipeg Jets forward and Minnesota native Blake Wheeler posted a letter on his Twitter account Saturday night saying “America is not OK,” in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the protests around the U.S. that have followed.

“Growing up outside Minneapolis, I always felt sheltered from racism. That’s because I was,” Wheeler said in the post.

“Most people I grew up with looked like me. I never had to be scared when I stopped at a traffic light or saw the police in public. My kids will never know that fear either.”

“I’m heartbroken that we still treat people this way. We need to stand with the black community and fundamentally change how the leadership in this country has dealt with racism. I’m sorry it has taken this long, but I’m hopeful that we can change this NOW. George Floyd’s life mattered. Ahmaud Arbery’s life mattered. So did every other life that has been lost by this senseless violence and racism,” he added.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes, even after he stopped moving and pleading for air last Monday.

Earlier Saturday, San Jose Sharks centre Logan Couture said in a post on Twitter that hockey players cannot continue to turn a “blind eye” to racism.

His comments came on the heels of a call to action by teammate Evander Kane, who implored more voices in prominent positions to speak out and to use their platforms to move us all towards meaningful change.

With files from Sportsnet

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