Former West Indies captains Darren Sammy and Chris Gayle, along with former West Indies fast bowler-turned commentator Ian Bishop, have joined a growing number of international sports personalities in condemning the murder of Black American George Floyd who died at the hands of four white police officers on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Video footage showed one officer kneeling on his neck, two holding him down and one standing watch. Only one officer has so far been charged. Sammy and Gayle are the first active cricketers to speak out in protest over the incident.
Sammy, who captained West Indies to two International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup Twenty20 titles in 2012 and 2016, yesterday urged the ICC and global cricket boards to speak out against the injustice of racism against “people of colour”. “Right now if the cricket world not standing against the injustice against people of color after seeing that last video of that foot down the neck of my brother, you are also part of the problem,” Sammy tweeted.
Sammy said he was “frustrated” that black people continued to suffer on a daily basis and cricket needed to voice its protest. “Can you be part of the change by showing support? @ICC and all the other boards are you guys not seeing what’s happening to ppl like me? Are you not gonna speak against the social injustice against my kind. This is not only about America. This happens everyday.”
Gayle said that he too had been a victim of racial abuse. He explained that he had received “racial remarks” during his travels across the globe and that was only because he was black. “Racism is not only in football, it’s in cricket, too,” he said. “Even within teams, as a black man, I get the end of the stick.”
Gayle added that black lives mattered as much as any other race. He also sent a word of caution to black people, urging them to desist from “bringing down” their own race.
Bishop also spoke out on Twitter, saying that the world, in its current state, was in pain and needed help healing. “The pain is real. People are crying out to be heard. They are hungry. They feel hopeless. They feel helpless. They feel neglected & subjugated. This is not the social contract that was agreed to decades ago. We need leaders who will help, heal, empathize & inspire at all levels,” he said.
The ICC responded today that it had always condemned racism and had zero tolerance for it. “As part of the Code [of Conduct], the players not only get punished, but also have to go through an education programme to promote a better understanding and awareness of issues directly relevant to the offence that he has committed. There is also a conciliation element to the proceedings.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy towards this sort of conduct and it can be punished with a lifetime ban. We provide guidelines to our members and we also make it clear that no discriminatory behaviour of any kind will be tolerated by anyone at the event – staff, media, fans etc,” the ICC said, without specific reference to the Floyd incident.
Meanwhile, today black British Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton said he was completely overcome by rage at the killing of Floyd. Hamilton, who is of Grenadian heritage, said the past week had been “so dark” for him. He said he had felt great anger, sadness and disbelief. “The injustice we are seeing our brothers and sisters face all over the world time and time again is disgusting and must stop,” Hamilton said.
He noted that while some might be surprised at what occurred to Floyd, the situation was no surprise to people of colour.
“Those of us who black, brown or in between, see it every day and should not have to feel as though we were born guilty, don’t belong or fear for our lives based on the colour of our skin,” Hamilton said.
“It is only when there are riots and screams for justice that the powers that be cave in and do something, but by then it is far too late and not enough has been done.”
Hamilton referred to the delay before Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, was arrested.
“It took hundreds of thousands of people’s complaints and buildings to burn before officials reacted and decided to arrest Derek Chauvin for murder – and that is sad,” he said, adding that America was not the only place where racism was to be found.
On Sunday Hamilton had lashed out at senior Formula One figures for not condemning what had occurred in the United States. He charged that some of the biggest personalities in his sport had remained silent in the midst of injustice. Following Hamilton’s posted remarks today, Formula One issued its first statement. “We stand with you, and all people in the fight against racism,” it said. “It is an evil that no sport or society is truly immune from. And it is only together we can oppose and eradicate it. Together we are stronger.”
Among the other sports personalities expressing their outrage over the past hours have been golfing great Tiger Woods, basketball superstar LeBron James, retired greats Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as well as former Sri Lankan cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara. (Cricinfo/WG)
Read our ePaper. Fast. Factual. Free.
Sign up and stay up to date with Barbados' FREE latest news.