When Josh Bell saw the video of a police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, one question popped into his mind: “Again?”
Bell, Mychal Givens, Dwight Smith Jr, Delino DeShields Jr., Lorenzo Cain and Taylor Hearn joined Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick on MLB Network Radio on Friday to discuss issues of race and social justice. Their conversation began with each player’s initial reaction to the disturbing video of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, being killed while being detained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
“It’s a scenario where, as a nation, it felt like we went through the Amy Cooper incident, then the Ahmaud Arbery incident shortly before that,” Bell said on MLB Network Radio. “So, it was like within a week and a half, two weeks, it was three glaringly disgusting things going on where it felt like injustice was continuing to thrive.
“We’re all sitting at home watching. We have no baseball. We have no LeBron posterizing somebody on TV. There’s no SportsCenter Top 10 right now. We’re all sitting at home watching these disgusting things unfold. You know, it’s tough. But it’s awesome to see that people of all color are feeling the same way, people of all color are feeling that injustice is real here in the States.
“I’m just hoping that this time next year, this time four or five years from now, things will have changed so that things like this don’t happen. It can’t be swept under the rug. It doesn’t need a video camera somewhere. It’s time for that change, so I’m hoping that it comes now.”
The former officer who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck has been charged with second-degree murder while three other officers on the scene were charged with aiding and abetting murder. With protests taking place across the country, players throughout baseball have joined in expressing their empathy and anger while calling for systemic change following Floyd’s death.
In the past, some professional athletes have been cautious when asked to discuss social issues like police brutality and racial inequality. But Bell and several other players noted the importance of using their platform as prominent African-American athletes to call for justice at a time like this.