Jaylen Brown drives to Atlanta to help lead peaceful protests

Scott McLaughlin
May 30, 2020 - 10:48 pm

Jaylen Brown tweeted on Friday, "Strong people stand up for themselves stronger people stand up for others," and said he would be peacefully protesting on Saturday.

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Not only did the fourth-year Celtic do just that, but he drove 15 hours from Boston to his hometown of Atlanta and helped organize said protests.

Protests are being held in cities all over the country in response to the death of George Floyd. Floyd, a black man, died on Monday when Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, held his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, including nearly three full minutes after Floyd became unresponsive.

Chauvin was arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other police officers who either helped Chauvin hold Floyd down or looked on as he did -- Thomas K. Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng -- were fired, but have not yet been charged. Hennepin County attorney Michael O. Freeman said he anticipates charges will be brought against those three.

"Being a celebrity, being an NBA player doesn't exclude me from no conversation at all," Brown said in an Instagram video. "First and foremost I'm a black man and a member of this community and I grew up on this soil. I want to say first and foremost that it's a peaceful protest. We're walking and that's it, raising awareness for some of the injustice we're seeing. It's not OK. As a young person, you gotta listen to our perspectives. Our voices need to be heard. I'm 23 years old. I don't know all the answers, but I feel how everybody is feeling for sure. No question."

"Being a bystander is no longer acceptable," Brown said in another video. "If you and your friends are around or are witnesses to cultural biases, micro-aggressions, subtle acts of racism, actual racism, etc. and you don't speak up on it or do something about it, you are part of the problem. We're past the point where if it's not in your governance space, you have nothing to do with it. If you don't speak up on these issues, you just as bad."

Brown carried an "I CAN'T BREATHE" sign -- some of the last words spoken by Floyd before he lost consciousness -- and helped lead call-and-response chants of "What do we want?" "Justice!" "When do we want it?" "Now!"

Indiana Pacers guard and fellow Atlanta native Malcolm Brogdon joined Brown.

"I got a grandfather that marched next to Dr. King in the '60s," Brogdon said. "He was amazing. He would be proud to see us all here. We got to keep pushing forward. Jaylen, man, has led this charge. I’m proud of him. We need more leaders. We need more people speaking."

A number of other current and former Boston sports figures have also weighed in on Floyd's death as well as the protests around the country.

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