With protests, many violent and some peaceful, raging across North America in the aftermath of an unarmed black man dying while being held down by a white police officer in Minneapolis, the NHL joined others calling for racial justice.
“As protests in both the United States and Canada in recent days have focused attention upon racial justice for the black community, the NHL stands with all those who are working to achieve a racially just society, and against all those who perpetuate and uphold racism, hatred, bigotry and violence,” the NHL said in a statement released late Sunday night. “We share the sentiments expressed by our players and our clubs in their calls for justice, and we encourage everyone to use their platforms and privilege for systemic change. In our own sport, we will continue to do better and work diligently toward culture change throughout hockey and endeavor to be mindful of our own shortcomings in this process.”
George Floyd died in Minneapolis on Monday. He was in handcuffs and face down on a city street as police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck, and prosecutors have filed murder and manslaughter charges against Chauvin.
NHL players such as the Los Angeles Kings’ Anze Kopitar, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Nick Foligno and the Ottawa Senators' Anthony Duclair, who is black, voiced their support earlier on Twitter for those seeking racial justice.
Several NHL clubs, including the New Jersey Devils, also voiced their support Sunday. Neither the Islanders nor the Rangers had issued a statement as of late Sunday.
“WE all have a voice, use it,” tweeted Duclair, a former Ranger. “Help create an environment where WE can be all treated equally. No matter what your race, religion or belief you may have, you should not stay silent about social inequality. Please spread the word.”
“I know I’ll never understand what it is like to be black in America,” tweeted Kopitar, who is from Slovenia. “What I do know is that it’s time to be better and do better. It is our responsibility to advocate for justice and equality, and to condemn racism and prejudice of all forms. We cannot stay silent. We must work toward a better future.”
The Devils, whose home arena is in Newark, tweeted: “The racism, prejudice and injustice faced by the black community and people of color is unacceptable and has no place in our society. We must take it upon ourselves to support one another and strive toward greater accountability. The only way we will be able to address these important issues is to work together as a unified community and commit to the change that must happen.”