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Fred VanVleet never has been reticent about sharing an opinion when asked.
On Monday, the Raptors point guard was asked his thoughts on the reaction to the incident in Minneapolis in which George Floyd died after a policeman knelt on his neck, while three other policeman stood by and watched. All four have since been fired, but only the policeman whose knee was on Floyd’s neck, as recorded on video, has been charged. That policeman, Derek Chauvin, 44, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
VanVleet was asked specifically what his thoughts were on the reaction to this, and it was very clear he already had given this a lot of thought.
“It’s really unfortunate, but even more unfortunate is I think we have seen this before,” VanVleet said. “We’ve seen this movie before and I think people are tired. People are tired of the racism, tired of the discrimination and the abuse. Unfortunately this man had to lose his life, but I think it was a boiling point and people are just fed up and I think it’s time for a change. The curtains are kind of being pulled back and you can see everything for what it is and see who stands where. We are going to move forward through this eventually but right now it’s just a lot of emotion and rightfully so. We are talking about hundreds of years of pain and suffering for an entire culture of people.”
VanVleet made this response as part of a planned interview on the upcoming one-year anniversary of the Raptors championship. However, the social unrest that has run rampant across the United States since video of the assault on Floyd went viral necessitated this, too, be asked about.
VanVleet doesn’t pretend to have the answers to the age-old problem of systematic inequality and repeated police brutality against blacks in the U.S., but he does know the answer isn’t simple and it isn’t small.
“It’s big steps,” VanVleet said when asked what steps need to be taken to right the current wrongs. “There’s nothing small that is going to fix this. I think the system that is in place is not for us (blacks), it’s not for everybody as far as a specific set of people. Obviously, there are ways to succeed within that system, but it’s definitely not an even playing field.
“So there are a lot of things that need to be changed, whether that’s laws or policies or, as you can see, some police procedures that maybe need to be updated or guys need to be trained better, but I don’t have all the answers. But the first step is just admitting that there is a real problem.”
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