Martin, an unarmed Florida teen, was allegedly shot and killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman after a claim by Zimmerman that Martin had attacked him and he acted in self-defense. The facts of the case have emerged in recent days, suggesting otherwise, and the national call to action to bring Zimmerman to justice has reached a boiling point.
Earlier today, the Miami Heat posed in hoodies to protest that Zimmerman has yet to be arrested— as many have done across the country– and just a few minutes ago, the NBA Players Association released the following formal statement in regards to the investigation:
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) offers its condolences to the family and loved ones of Trayvon Martin in their time of need. The NBPA is saddened and horrified by the tragic murder of Mr. Martin and joins in the chorus of calls from across the nation for the prompt arrest of George Zimmerman. The reported facts surrounding Mr. Zimmerman’s actions indicate a callous disregard for Mr. Martin’s young life and necessitate that he stand trial.
The NBPA also calls for the permanent resignation of Sanford Chief of Police Bill Lee and a full review of the Sanford Police Department, for dereliction of duty and racial bias in this matter and others.
Their silence in the face of this injustice is reprehensible and they cannot be trusted to safe guard the citizens of the Sanford community equally. The NBPA seeks to ensure that Trayvon Martin’s murder not go unpunished and the elimination of the injustices suffered by the innocent.
This strongly-worded, articulate statement is fascinating for a couple of reasons.
First, while it is not rare for individual players or league representatives to offer condolences, or take a stand on a politically and socially-charged issue, rarely is such strong wording used. The call for Bill Lee’s resignation and review of the Sanford Police Department are a call to action usually reserved for political organizations, or other protest bodies for whom such rhetoric is the status quo.
Second, by taking such a strong stand on the issue, the NBAPA runs the risk of alienating the small minority of individuals who may in fact believe George Zimmerman acted in self-defense, however small this group may be.
I’m personally impressed with the NBAPA’s fortitude in light of a very troubling situation and their collective willingness to take a stand in spite of the backlash it could cause.
It’s a brave stand.