Earlier today, the Miami Heat posed for a picture in hoodies to protest the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American teen. It was a big statement for a team as a whole to make, and earlier this evening, the league’s players association followed suit by releasing a strongly-worded statement. It reads, in full:
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) offers its condolences to the family and loved ones of Trayvon Martin in their time of need. The NBPA is saddened and horrified by the tragic murder of Mr. Martin and joins in the chorus of calls from across the nation for the prompt arrest of George Zimmerman. The reported facts surrounding Mr. Zimmerman’s actions indicate a callous disregard for Mr. Martin’s young life and necessitate that he stand trial. The NBPA also calls for the permanent resignation of Sanford Chief of Police Bill Lee and a full review of the Sanford Police Department, for dereliction of duty and racial bias in this matter and others. Their silence in the face of this injustice is reprehensible and they cannot be trusted to safe guard the citizens of the Sanford community equally. The NBPA seeks to ensure that Trayvon Martin’s murder not go unpunished and the elimination of the injustices suffered by the innocent.
Offering condolences, saying you’re saddened and horrified: that’s to be expected. Actually calling for resignations and saying the police department “cannot be trusted to safe guard [its] citizens” is not. This is above and beyond what statements like this normally say – and if any situation calls for something above and beyond the norm, it’s this one. It’s been fascinating to see just how strong response in the sports world – a world often so skittish about speaking out on social issues – has been today on the Martin topic. And it’s hard not to admire that.