Last Saturday, residents of Atlanta gathered in protest of George Floyd’s death and the ongoing persecution of black Americans. The peaceful demonstration was similar to others that took place across the country in response to the shocking video released last week of Floyd’s passing at the hands of Derek Chauvin.
But this protest was different. It had not been arranged by an elected official or a community organization: it was led and organized completely by Atlanta native and Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown.
Brown announced Saturday morning through Twitter that the protest would begin that night at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Site in Atlanta. He made the 15 hour trip by car to protest with his community. Before the walk began he asserted his desire for the event to not escalate into a violent one, tweeting, “I will be peacefully protesting tomorrow.”
Hundreds gathered to join him on Saturday evening including Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon and rapper Lil Yachty. Brown led the march, holding a sign reading “I can’t breathe.” He and Brogdon addressed the crowd throughout the night by megaphone. Brown chanted, “remember why we’re here” as he marched.
Perhaps the most moving words though of the night were made by Brogdon, which Brown posted on his Instagram.
“I’ve got brothers, I’ve got sisters, I’ve got friends that are in the streets, that are out here, that haven’t made it to this level, that are experiencing it, that are getting pulled over, just discrimination, day after day, dealing with the same b—s—,” he said passionatly. “This is systematic. This isn’t something where we come and- we don’t have to burn down our homes. We built this city. This is the most proudly black city in the world. In the world, man. Let’s take some pride in that. Let’s focus our energy. Let’s enjoy this together. This is a moment. We have leverage right now. We have a moment in time. People are going to look back, our kids are going to look back at this and say, ‘You were part of that.’”
According to Brown and others that attended the march, the protest remained peaceful. Despite this, three protesters were arrested. Brown said that these arrests were made wrongful, and requested via Twitter for the information of the three detainees to be sent to him. The status of the arrests are unknown at this time.
This protest was not only a great event for the city of Atlanta and the country, but showed that Brown is someone who is willing to go above and beyond to help progress social change in America. He knows how important it is for him to use his platform for good, saying on instagram live during the march, “Being a celebrity, being an NBA player, don’t exclude me from no conversations at all. First and foremost, I’m a black man and I’m a member of this community.”
This protest was one of many actions made by the NBA in the last week in support of the fight against police brutality in America. Several other NBA players such as Dennis Smith Jr, Stephen Jackson, Steph Curry and Trae Young have joined protests all over the country, not to mention the hundreds of other players and coaches who have reached out in other ways in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
This is a critical time for racial justice in this nation’s history, and the NBA will play a vital role in bringing about positive change, as it has done numerous times in the last century.
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