SAN JOSE (KPIX) – Professional athletes took a stand Wednesday against the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, by boycotting scheduled games without warning.
“Our focus today cannot be on basketball,” Milwaukee Bucks forward Sterling Brown read from a prepared statement by the team.
The Bucks did not leave the locker room for Game 5 of the playoff series against the Orlando Magic. The movement spread quickly throughout professional sports leagues, including the WNBA, MLB and MLS.
“It’s very difficult to be heard until you have attention, and our athletes are now demanding attention,” said San Jose State University Assistant Professor of Public Relations Shaun Fletcher.
Fletcher, who is also an advisory board member of the university’s Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change, said the walkout is historic. He compared the solidarity from Wednesday’s protest to the Cleveland Summit when nearly a dozen black athletes came together to show their support for Muhammed Ali’s refusal to fight in the Vietnam war.
“We’re starting to see more of that solidarity again, there’s power in numbers, and we know in our society there’s also power in name recognition,” said Fletcher.
READ: Giants, Earthquakes Suspend Games; Other Contests Postponed Follow NBA Boycott Over Police Shooting Of Jacob Blake
But this is not the first time athletes have used the national stage to bring awareness to racial injustice and police brutality.
Exactly four years ago on Wednesday, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began his peaceful protest by taking a seat during the national anthem. He was widely shunned by many Americans as well as the NFL, which distanced themselves from the player.
“The pathway that Colin Kaepernick, in my mind he created, is that we don’t have to revisit the motives as much as we did before,” Fletcher said.