Credit: Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aaron_Hicks_on_May_5,_2016.jpg), „Aaron Hic

Last August, in an emotional response to the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, one in a continuum of unjust shootings and murders of Black men and women in the United States by law enforcement personnel, Glenn “Doc” Rivers, then the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, emotionally expressed the sentiments ostensibly held by millions of Black folks in America. 

“It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back,” he said. “It’s really so sad.” 

Now the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, Rivers’ introspective contemplation still has not been satisfactorily reconciled. On Sunday, April 11, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, roughly ten miles from the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis site of the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd, a 20-year-old Black man, Duante Wright, was shot and killed by police officer Kim Potter after being stopped for driving an SUV with expired license plates. He is dead because he was a Black man. 

During a nationally televised press conference on Monday, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon stated Wright “was pulled over for having an expired registration on the vehicle.” He characterized the shooting as an “accidental discharge” and presented a nuanced framing of the killing by the 48-year-old Potter, a 26-year veteran of the city’s police department.

“As I watch the video and listen to the officer’s command,” said Gannon, “it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy [her] taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.” After immediate widespread calls for their removals, Potter and Gannon both resigned on Tuesday.

The reverberations of the tragic result were felt in the sports world. New Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks, who was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the first round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft and played for the organization until 2015, sat out the Yankees game on Monday versus the Toronto Blue Jays as more details of the Wright’s shooting emerged.

“With all that’s going on in Minneapolis, he’s having a tough time right now,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone of Hicks. “Had a conversation in my office and he just felt like it was best to not be in the starting lineup tonight. And I certainly support that and we’ll try to rally around him the best we can. Obviously, the situation is heartbreaking right now in Minneapolis. And I think it has hit Aaron particularly hard.”

The expansive demonstrations that erupted last summer following the death of Floyd are unlikely to materialize following Wright’s murder. But the inextricable interconnection of social issues and sports, in large part a result of the growing activism of athletes, Black athletes in particular, and the self-realization of their global influence, has altered the dynamics of the current racial justice movement.

In the wake of intense protests in and around the Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis areas on Monday, the game between the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and Brooklyn Nets, was postponed and rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon with no fans allowed at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

Additionally, the Minnesota Twins’ home game on Monday against the Boston Red Sox was postponed until Tuesday, and the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild’s match up scheduled for the same day versus the St. Louis Blues was moved to May 12.