Sports Postponed as Americans Protest Racism in Law Enforcement

27 August 2020

Three months ago, the death of George Floyd under arrest by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, incited protests of brutality and systemic racism in law enforcement. Now, a police shooting this week in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has led to more protests.

On Sunday, a Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man. Blake's lawyer has said he was attempting to break up a fight between two women when he was wounded. Blake remains hospitalized from his wounds.

Video captured by a neighbor shows Blake walks around his vehicle followed by two police officers. As Blake opens the driver's side door, an officer pulls his shirts from behind and shoots him seven times. A woman standing by the car is seen jumping up and down calling for help. His three young children were reportedly inside the vehicle.

Protesters raise their fists during a demonstration against the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 26, 2020. - Two people were shot dead and a third injured on the night of August 25 in the US city of Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Protesters raise their fists during a demonstration against the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 26, 2020. - Two people were shot dead and a third injured on the night of August 25 in the US city of Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Protests in Wisconsin and elsewhere began Sunday night. They have continued throughout the week. The protests turned deadly on Tuesday when a 17-year-old white man shot at protesters. Two people were killed and one person was severely wounded.

Kyle Rittenhouse from nearby Antioch, Illinois, is the suspect in the shooting. He was charged Wednesday with first-degree intentional homicide after being seen on video captured at the scene.

In the video, Rittenhouse is seen running through the street carrying a semi-automatic rifle. He trips, falls to the ground and opens fire at people who had been chasing him. A man shouts, "Hey, he just shot them... He just shot them down there," as several police vehicles pass by without stopping.

Stop the games

Some professional athletes have joined the Kenosha protests.

On Wednesday night, members of the Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball team refused to play their planned NBA game. The team represents a Wisconsin city about 64 kilometers north of Kenosha.

Team members wore clothes saying "Black Lives Matter" as they read a statement. They said they were "calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand(ing) the officers be held accountable." They asked the state of Wisconsin legislature to return to work to address police action and criminal justice reform.

The players added, "We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3."

Naomi Osaka is a Grand Slam tennis champion who is half Black and half Japanese. She announced Wednesday that she would not continue to play in the Western & Southern Open tennis competition. She explained that she was doing so to take a stand against police violence against Black people in the United States.

Osaka wrote on Twitter, " I don't expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction."

Players in other professional sports leagues, including the Women's NBA, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer, have also gone on strike in protest of the Blake shooting. Many games have been postponed.

Speaking to the Republican National Convention from Baltimore, Maryland, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence defended law enforcement. He did not directly note police violence against Floyd, Blake and other Black Americans.

The vice president said, "The American people know we don't have to choose between supporting law enforcement and standing with African American neighbors to improve the quality of life in our cities and towns."

Doc Rivers, who is Black, coaches the Los Angeles Clippers, an NBA team. He talked to reporters after his team played a game on Wednesday night. He said "just watching the Republican Convention... all of them talk about fear."

"We're the ones getting killed. We're the ones getting shot. We're the ones denied to live in certain communities. We've been hung. We've been shot. And all you do is keep hearing about fear. It's amazing to me..."

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.


Words in This Story

brutality - n. cruel, harsh and usually violent treatment of another person

scene - n. the place of an incident or event

drastic - adj. extreme in effect or action

coach - n. a person who trains and teaches members of a sports team and makes decision about the team plays