Jacob Blake isn’t supposed to be alive.
On Sunday, the Kenosha, Wis., native was shot at least seven times in the back by local police after breaking up a verbal altercation between two women. In response, the city has descended into chaos as the 29-year-old fights for his life in intensive care.
Protests have sprung up throughout the city, civil unrest has brought Kenosha to its knees and countless celebrities, entertainers and public figures have expressed outrage at the latest instance of America’s favorite pastime: the complete destruction and disregard for Black bodies.
When the NBA moved forward with its plans to resume play, the topic of social justice became a contentious issue. Many players feared that by playing, they’d distract from the progress being made in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers. But a compromise was made, and the league not only resumed play but has incorporated various social justice initiatives as part of its efforts to empower and protect the Black community.
But playing on a court with “Black Lives Matter” printed across it doesn’t mean that society treats us as though we do, so it comes as no surprise that Blake’s shooting at the hands of local police incited responses from players and personnel throughout the NBA.
“It’s just sickening. It’s heartless. It’s a fucked up situation,” Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill said on Monday. “You’re supposed to look at the police to protect and serve. Now, it’s looked at harass or shoot.
“To almost take a guy’s life, thank God he’s still alive. I know the cops are probably upset he’s still alive, because I know they surely tried to kill him. But to almost take a man’s life, especially in front of one’s kids, that wasn’t resisting in his back at point-blank range, is a heartless and gutless situation. We need some justice for that.”
The Bucks released an official statement on Monday addressing the matter as well.
“We stand firmly against reoccurring issues of excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging the Black community,” the team said. “Our organization will continue to stand for all Black lives as we demand accountability and systemic change on behalf of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sylville Smith, Ernest Lacy, Dontre Hamilton, Tony Robinson, Joel Acevedo and countless other victims. We will work to enact policy change so these incidents no longer exist.”
“Another black man was shot by a police officer,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters on Monday. “An incident like this is more important than anything we’re doing in Orlando.”
“This is why we have so many people outraged over the country,” Bucks star Kris Middleton said. “The man was shot point-blank range over seven times in the back. It doesn’t get any more sickening than that. People are starting to see why black people are so afraid of police because at any time, no matter what they did right or wrong, their first act is to shoot us.”
A number of other athletes have taken to social media to express their outrage at Blake’s shooting, including LeBron James, Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu.
Superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers was another player disgusted by the circumstances surrounding unnecessary Blake’s shooting.
“I think that goes to a systematic problem that needs to be addressed at some point,” he said. “There’s antiquated laws that are prejudicial against people of color in this state. I think the governor and the folks at the Capitol need to take a hard look at some of those systems that are in place.”
After the Thunder’s win on Monday, Chris Paul spoke out as well.
“It’s not right,” he said. “The win is good, but voting is real. I’m going to challenge all my NBA guys, other sports guys: Let’s try to get our entire teams registered to vote. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the country. You know, sports—it’s cool, it’s good and well, that’s how we take care of our families. But those are the real issues that we’ve got to start addressing.”
As we reported here at The Root, on Tuesday morning, Jacob Blake’s father revealed that his son is paralyzed from the waist down. It’s unknown if that condition is temporary or permanent, but the family is still trying to make sense of what occurred.
“What justified all those shots?” his father told the Chicago Sun-Times. “What justified doing that in front of my grandsons? What are we doing?”
The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave.
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