- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter Tuesday in the death of George Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man who died in May 2020 after Chauvin knelt on or near his neck for over nine minutes.

Chauvin was convicted of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, concluding a trial that lasted for three weeks.

Especially since Floyd’s death, social justice movements have taken a more central role in sports leagues as players found their voices. The NBA displayed “Black Lives Matter” on the court during last summer’s playoff bubble at Walt Disney World in Florida. Some players wore social justice messages on their uniforms.

And after the verdict was delivered in Chauvin’s case on Tuesday in Minneapolis, the NBA and NBA Players Association released a joint statement.

“George Floyd’s murder was a flashpoint for how we look at race and justice in our country, and we are pleased that justice appears to have been served,” the statement read. “But we also recognize that there is much work to be down and the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association, together with our newly-formed Social Justice Coalition, will redouble our efforts to advocate for meaningful change in the areas of criminal justice and policing.”

The WNBA, which has also taken an active role in advocating for racial and social justice, released a statement that echoes a similar sentiment.

“The past year, we have witnessed traumatizing instances of police brutality that Black Americans disproportionately experience, with the murder of George Floyd at the forefront of the conversation,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. “While the verdict represents a step toward justice, we are reminded that justice is too often not the outcome for people of color.

“The WNBA/WNBPA Social Justice Council will continue its work to combat injustice and inequality in our country and hope this represents a true turning point for how the effects of systemic racism begin to be addressed. We stand with all those who have felt the deep impact of George Floyd’s death.”

Players added their voices to the mix, too. Trae Young, the Atlanta Hawks point guard, tweeted: “WAY MORE WORK TO DO.” Mark Ingram, a running back on the Houston Texans, tweeted: “Justice.”

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns added his thoughts.

“Justice and Accountability!” Towns tweeted. “Things I never thought I would see. There’s much more work to do, but this is an amazing start working toward the reform this country NEEDS!”

In Washington, Monumental Sports & Entertainment — the company that owns the Capitals and Wizards — released a statement supporting the verdict. But the company added that there’s more to be done.

“While justice has been rightfully served in the case of George Floyd, we continue to mourn his loss and must not forget the countless others who have suffered injustice in countless ways throughout our country’s history,” Monumental’s statement read. “Our players have been tremendous leaders in the fight for equality in D.C., their local communities and on the national stage that our leagues provide.”

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