Both Westbrook (Long Beach) and DeRozan (Compton) are natives of Southern California, and they joined the many Americans who have demonstrated to demand reform addressing systemic racism and police brutality.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew attention to the cause when he began protesting during the national anthem in 2016. DeRozan explained at the time how the issues hit close to home.
"I had a close friend of mine a couple of weeks ago that was murdered by the police, shot 17 times," DeRozan told reporters. "It was something I haven't spoke out about, it was more so of just understanding what's going on in our society and how much I can help."
Westbrook also vented his anger after Terence Crutcher was shot and killed by Betty Shelby, a member of the Tulsa Police Department, in September 2016. Shelby was acquitted of felony manslaughter in May 2017.
Westbrook provided his thoughts on Instagram:
"A terrorist in New Jersey bombs New York has a shoot out with cops and gets grazed with a bullet. And safely arrested. A man with car trouble in Tulsa gets TAZED then shot. And then they stand there. Don't offer him aid, comfort, nothing. No gun. No criminal activity. And I've heard people say 'he should have complied'. As if that has ANYTHING TO DO WITH KILLING AN UNARMED MAN. Stop making excuses. His color got him killed."
The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has served as the genesis for many of the protests across the country.
On May 25, four officers approached Floyd in his car while investigating an alleged forgery in progress. They removed him from the vehicle and placed him on the ground.
A video of the encounter showed officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes despite Floyd saying he couldn't breathe. Floyd died at a local hospital.
The four officers involved were fired, and prosecutors first charged Chauvin with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison upgraded the murder charge to a second-degree offense and charged the other three officers with aiding and abetting.