Boston Celtics and Miami Heat players left the court of American Airlines Arena in the minutes leading up to their Wednesday game on ESPN.
They returned to participate in warmups, but held a players-only meeting between members of both teams in the Heat locker room, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The meeting took place hours after a mob of mostly white President Donald Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the election of President-elect Joe Biden and a day after prosecutors declined to press charges against the police officer who shot Jacob Blake multiple times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Before tipoff, players knelt during the national anthem and released a joint statement protesting the systemic treatment of Black Americans compared to the subdued law enforcement response to the mob in Washington, D.C.
Members of the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons also took a knee during gameplay of their Wednesday matchup in Milwaukee, while Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors players knelt during the anthem. Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors players locked arms at center court during the anthem.
‘Some things have not changed’
Heat and Celtics players kneel for anthem. pic.twitter.com/2QrAtszPaT
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) January 7, 2021
“2021 is a new year, but some things have not changed,” the statement reads. “We play tonight’s game with a heavy heart after yesterday’s decision in Kenosha, and knowing that protesters in our nation’s capital are treated differently by political leaders depending on what side of certain issues they are on.
“The drastic difference between the way protesters this past spring and summer were treated and the encouragement given to today’s protesters who acted illegally just shows how much more work we have to do.
“We have decided to play tonight’s game to bring joy into people’s lives. But we must not forget the injustices in our society, and we will continue to use our voices and our platform to highlight these issues and do everything we can to work for a more equal and just America.
Scenes from Capitol prompt outrage
Where protests of systemic violence against Black Americans this summer were repeatedly met with more violence, scenes of police officers taking selfies with rioters and helping them walk down the stairs of the Capitol on Wednesday amid an act of insurrection stood in stark contrast.
Cops are taking selfies with the terrorists. pic.twitter.com/EjkQ83h1p2
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 6, 2021
Police hand walking a rioter down the stairs for her comfort. pic.twitter.com/IaNPs7OMRJ
— Alafair Burke (@alafairburke) January 6, 2021
Law enforcement did appear to use tear gas to disperse rioters on the Capitol balcony long after they had invaded. Throngs of rioters who invaded the Capitol were allowed to walk away without consequence.
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers addressed the discrepancy in police action on Wednesday alongside other NBA coaches.
“When you saw the protests in summer, you saw the riots or more the police and the national guard and the army,” Rivers said. “And then you see this and you saw nothing. It basically proves the point about a privileged life in a lot of ways.
“I’ll say it because I don’t think a lot of people want to, could you imagine today if those were all Black people storming the Capitol and what would’ve happened?”
NBC News reports that 15 arrests were made in Washington as of Wednesday evening.
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