In an op-ed for The Globe and Mail on Sunday, Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri addressed the unrest currently gripping the United States, saying he was shocked by the videotaped death of George Floyd and citing the need to stop the cycle of violence.
No one can deny the police have a tough job. But they are peace officers. They are supposed to protect all of us. This is the profession they chose. I didn't see any peace or protection when that officer had his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck. I saw indifference. The "order" in "law and order" should not mean the deadly suppression of people of colour; it should mean preserving a society so we can all feel free and safe, to live in peace with each other.
Ujiri also touched on his own experiences with the police. Last June, after the Raptors won the NBA championship against the Golden State Warriors, an officer physically restrained Ujiri from entering the court in Oakland as the team celebrated. The officer has since sued Ujiri for "severe emotional and physical distress."
Our team had just won the NBA championship and I was rushing to get on the court to celebrate. I was stopped, physically stopped, by a police officer, and the confrontation turned nasty. There's a lawsuit that's still before the courts - he is suing me - so I can't say too much.
But I will say this: If it was another team president heading for the court - a white team president - would he have been stopped by that officer? I've wondered that.
I recognize what happened in Oakland last June is very different from what happened in Minneapolis last Monday. My own experience only cost me a moment; Mr. Floyd's experience cost him his life.
Protests have broken out in dozens of U.S. cities over the last four days. In Toronto, protesters marched Saturday to demand answers in the death of a black woman who died in the presence of police Wednesday.