June 6, 2020 / 7:00 PM / 2 months ago

Spurs' Popovich 'embarrassed as a white person' after Floyd's death

(Reuters) - San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on Saturday issued an emotional statement about the death of George Floyd, saying the “country is in trouble” and that he is “embarrassed as a white person” to know that a black man can be still be “lynched”.

FILE PHOTO: Basketball - FIBA World Cup - Classification Games 7-8 - United States v Poland - Wukesong Sport Arena, Beijing, China - September 14, 2019 Coach of the U.S. Gregg Popovich REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last month after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, placed a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes, triggered outrage, protests and civil unrest across the United States. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder.

"In a strange, counter-intuitive sort of way, the best teaching moment of this most recent tragedy ... was the look on the officer's face," Popovich said in a stirring video posted by Spurs on Twitter here

“For white people to see how nonchalant, how casual, how just everyday-going-about-his job, so much so that he could just put his left hand in his pocket, wriggle his knee around a little bit to teach this person some sort of a lesson ... and that it was his right and his duty to do it, in his mind.

“I think I’m just embarrassed as a white person to know that that can happen. To actually watch a lynching.

“I never thought I’d see that with my own eyes, in real time.”

Popovich, 71, called on white people to raise their voices, speak truth to power “no matter what the consequences” and not let things lie.

“Black people have been shouldering this burden for 400 years,” he said. “The only reason this nation has made the progress it has is because of the persistence, patience and effort of black people.

“What’s it going to take? Two more black people with knees in their necks? I don’t think so, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

“Our country is in trouble. And the basic reason is race.”

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Mike Harrison

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