Masai Ujiri Says 'We Have to Stop That Cycle' After Seeing Video of George Floyd

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2020

Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri attends a premiere for
Arthur Mola/Associated Press

Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri penned an op-ed for The Globe and Mail calling for the end of police violence as protests continue in the United States over the killing of George Floyd.

"Ever since I first saw the video, I’ve been thinking about the cycle," Ujiri wrote. "A death like this happens, and we rage about it, and the headlines recede, and the world moves on, and then a few weeks later something else happens and we’re outraged again and then we move on, again. We have to stop that cycle."

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with the third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of Floyd after video surfaced showing him kneeling on Floyd's neck during an arrest this week. The video sparked outrage because Floyd was not resisting arrest and told Chauvin he could not breathe. 

Chauvin and three other officers on the scene were fired, but criminal charges came only after days of protests in Minneapolis that have since spread nationwide. Many of the protests have become violent, leading to further altercations between police and citizens. 

"So many of you are asking: What can I do? There is a sense of helplessness, but that must not paralyze us," Ujiri wrote. "Your voice matters, especially when you are a leader or influential figure, and especially if you are white. Leaders have to be bold enough to state the obvious and call out racism."

Ujiri also briefly touched on his own recent issue with an Oakland police officer who attempted to stop him from going on the court after the Raptors won the 2019 NBA championship. Charges were initially considered after the cop alleged Ujiri shoved him, but that was later disputed, and no charges were filed. The officer filed a lawsuit against Ujiri and the Raptors earlier this year.

"There’s a lawsuit that’s still before the courts—he is suing me—so I can’t say too much," Ujiri wrote. "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."

Ujiri closed by calling on people in power to have conversations about race, even if they are "hard."