Celtics' Enes Kanter Chants 'I Can't Breathe' with Protesters in Boston

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2020

Boston Celtics' Enes Kanter plays against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March, 8, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter joined protesters in Boston on Sunday following the death of George Floyd, who died in a hospital Monday after since-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes while Floyd repeatedly said he couldn't breathe.

Kanter chanted "I can't breathe" with other protesters:

Kevin Raposo @Kevin_Raposo

.@EnesKanter of the @celtics out here in Boston supporting the cause. https://t.co/2ra9xnRdtk

Kanter also spoke at the protest:

Enes Kanter @EnesKanter

BE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY. https://t.co/tl8w24kuCt

"First of all, I want to thank you all for what you're doing. I really, really appreciate it," he said. "The second thing I want to say, man, is we need change. And change cannot wait. You know? I get emotional, but we are on the right side of history, man. ... Black lives matter."

Other Celtics have joined protests around the country. Marcus Smart and Vincent Poirier were also at Boston protests Sunday night.

A. Sherrod Blakely @ASherrodblakely

The #Celtics @smart_MS3 on why he's participating in the tonight's peaceful protest here in Boston. https://t.co/KCiKufqonG

And Jaylen Brown drove from Boston to Atlanta to join the protests there.

"I drove 15 hours to get to Georgia, my community. This is a peaceful protest," he said (h/t Tim Bontemps of ESPN). "Being a celebrity, being an NBA player, don't exclude me from no conversations at all. First and foremost, I'm a black man and I'm a member of this community. ... We're raising awareness for some of the injustices that we've been seeing. It's not OK."

Kanter, 28, is no stranger to activism. He has been vocal about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the past, once calling him "the Hitler of our century," and has fought for United States sanctions against the country. Turkey, meanwhile, has reportedly sought the extradition of Kanter, labeling him a terrorist.

"Nobody should be surprised if Turkey calls you a terrorist because you don't agree with them," Kanter said. "We got used to it already."

His father, Mehmet Kanter, is currently on trial in Turkey after also being accused of being in a terrorist group. Both Kanters have been accused of supporting Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan has said attempted a coup in 2016. Gulen has denied the allegations.