Bucks Call for Justice for Jacob Blake After Refusing to Play Game 5 vs. Magic

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2020

Officials stand beside an empty court at the scheduled start of an NBA basketball first round playoff game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Milwaukee Bucks didn't take the floor in protest against racial injustice and the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Milwaukee Bucks players released a statement Wednesday, demanding justice for Jacob Blake and for the police officers involved in his shooting to be held accountable for their actions.

Guards George Hill and Sterling Brown read the following statement:

"The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings. Over the last few days, in our home state of Wisconsin, we've seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha and the additional shooting of protesters. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball. 

"When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold each other to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from lawmakers and law enforcement. We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand for the officers to be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin state legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action and remember to vote on Nov. 3."

Bucks players refused to play in Wednesday's scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic, three days after Kenosha, Wisconsin police shot Blake in the back seven times (striking him four) as he reached into his car in an attempt to check on his three children. The Bucks' strike led to the five remaining teams scheduled to play Wednesday (Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers) also choosing not play.

The NBA has said the games will be rescheduled. However, players are expected to meet later Wednesday to discuss potential actions for the remainder of the 2020 playoffs. Several players entered the Orlando bubble wary that a return to basketball would distract from pushes for social justice reform that swept the country after George Floyd's death in police custody.

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According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, there is sentiment within the Bucks that the team wants to continue playing this season.

Protests have been ongoing in Kenosha since Blake's shooting. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old white man, was arrested for allegedly killing two protesters and shooting another Wednesday. Rittenhouse, a supporter of the "Blue Lives Matter" movement and President Donald Trump, allegedly considered himself part of a militia.

Blake was paralyzed from the waist down by the shooting, and it's considered unlikely he will ever walk again. Rusten Sheskey has been identified as the officer who shot Blake.