NFL: Detroit Lions walk out of practice to protest Blake shooting

(Reuters) - The Detroit Lions canceled practice on Tuesday in protest over the police shooting of a Wisconsin Black man in the back.

Players stood outside the National Football League team’s headquarters in Allen Park holding signs reading: “We Won’t be Silent” and “The World Can’t Go On” in a show of solidarity with protesters in Kenosha, where Jacob Blake was gunned down by police.

Lions players and head coach Matt Patricia gathered near the front entrance of the facility.

“I didn’t feel right about going out there and trying to run some football drill without talking to our team,” said Patricia. “As far as I’m concerned, when things are hard in the world, there’s two things I check.

“First is my family, and the second is this football team and the guys in that locker room. And making sure that everybody is OK.”

Blake, who had been attempting to break up a fight between two women, was struck in the back by four of the seven shots, all fired by one officer, in front of his sons aged 3, 5 and 8, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Blake family, told ABC News on Tuesday.

Video shows Blake walking toward the driver’s side door of his SUV, away from two officers who were pointing guns at his back. After he opens the door, seven shots ring out, with one of the officers tugging at his shirt.

The police have not explained why Blake was shot.

“We had our team meeting this morning and no football was talked about,” quarterback Matthew Stafford told the Detroit Free Press. “The conversations lasted four hours and it was incredible to be a part of it.”

The incident is the latest in a series of cases to focus attention on police brutality and the treatment of African Americans.

The shooting occurred three months after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Dan Grebler