On March 13 in Louisville, Kentucky, police officers opened fire into the home of Breonna Taylor in an alleged botched narcotics raid, fatally shooting her. Taylor, with no criminal history, was not the target of the investigation. As civil unrest rages across the country over killings by police, the sports world expresses frustration and disappointment as the grand jury fails to indict all officers involved in the Breonna Taylor case.
One officer, Brett Hankinson, was indicted by the grand jury on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree. But the other officers involved in the shooting, Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and officer Myles, Cosgrove were not. The verdict left many disappointed and frustrated over the perceived lack of justice.
Members of the Sports World Are Angry, Fed Up, and Deeply Disappointed
People are angry at the seemingly blatant disregard for human life exhibited in the cases of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Jacob Blake, and others. But the anger also comes from a lack of prosecution of the police officers responsible for the killings. When the grand jury failed to indict all officers involved in Taylor’s death, the members of the professional athletic community spoke up.
“Sadly, there was no justice today for Breonna Taylor,” said Michele Roberts, director of the National Basketball Players Association. “Her killing was the result of a string of callous and careless decisions…” she added. Megan Rapinoe, a professional soccer player wrote in a heartfelt post, “This is insulting and devastating news regarding Breonna Taylor’s murderers.”
LeBron James, L.A. Lakers superstar, was among the athletes and sports affiliates expressing anger, “I’ve been lost for words today! I’m devastated, hurt, sad, mad! We want Justice for Breonna…” Other players, such as Jaylen Brown from the Boston Celtics, are not shocked by the lack of indictment. Brown said, “It doesn’t surprise me at all. Until we dismantle, recreate, or change this system we have, it’s going to continue to have victims like Breonna Taylor and others.”
The individuals mentioned here are only a few among the hundreds (if not thousands) of sports figures who are fed up. And behind them there are millions (if not hundreds of millions) of ordinary people who feel the same.
Standing With the Victims of Brutality
Since the protests began, following the killing of George Floyd in May, sports figures have stood in solidarity with the victims of police brutality and the Black Lives Matter cause. As a form of protest, some athletes have taken a knee during the national anthem at games. Though controversial to some, it certainly makes a statement.
Large pockets of support from the sports world are popping up all over the country. The Ohio State Athletic Department, for example, is particularly vocal. A spokesperson said, “The department will continue to support our student-athletes as they participate in activities to eradicate hate and racism in our society.”
Most professional athletes, especially from the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NASCAR, have large fanbases, and they have been increasingly utilizing them to bring attention to challenges standing in the way of social – and legal – justice. Their voices are being heard. But there’s a long way to go.
As videos and news of the shocking unlawful killing of black citizens by the police continue to surface, it becomes increasingly clear that drastic reforms in policing are needed. In fact, a broad conversation regarding the underlying structures of law enforcement is now more urgent than ever. But change is in the air. Lights are being shone into the dark corners of a rotted system. And soon, hopefully, justice and humanity will prevail over indifference and brutality.