National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts expressed outrage over the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Wednesday and how the event reflected racial double standards in America.
Roberts told ESPN that her conversations with multiple NBA players throughout the afternoon kept returning to the contrast between the scene of President Donald Trump’s supporters storming the Capitol with the Tuesday announcement that police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, would not face any charges in the shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black.
In the aftermath of the Blake shooting in August, the Milwaukee Bucks decided against playing a playoff game against the Orlando Magic in the league’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. More teams joined the Bucks and the league shut down in protest for three days before restarting again.
“Today started yesterday, when the Jacob Blake shooting was being justified, although I’m not sure there was a single human surprised at that finding,” Roberts told ESPN on Wednesday. “Every single player that contacted me — or that I contacted — saw the same connection to the Blake shooting being justified. We were watching these people essentially committing treason at the Capitol and I have yet to hear about a single shot being fired.
“We saw a Black police officer being chased and players said to me, ‘So this is what they can do?’ And people don’t get this privilege stuff? I know how they’re feeling. I am so angry and pained — and refusing to cry. It reminded me of something that James Baldwin said, when asked what it was like to be a Negro in the United States of America. He said that if you’re conscious of what’s going on in the country, and you’re a Negro, you’re in a constant state of rage.
“On a day like this, it’s the first thing that comes to mind. And all I can say is that I’m grateful knowing that hopefully nobody who looks like me is going to Capitol Hill to respond to this, because if they do, you’ll see a different response by law enforcement. You know it — and I know it.”
Roberts told ESPN that there had been no discussions with the NBA about postponing any of the 11 NBA games scheduled for Wednesday night. The Washington Wizards played the Philadelphia 76ers in Philadelphia.
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