Sharks forward Evander Kane on Friday called on high profile athletes, especially white superstars in the NHL and other team sports, to speak out about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this week and other racial injustices that have happened in the past.
“We need so many more athletes that don’t look like me speaking out about this, having the same amount of outrage that I have inside, and using that to voice their opinion, to voice their frustration. Because that’s the only way it’s going to change,” Kane said on “First Take” on ESPN.
“We’ve been outraged for hundreds of years, and nothing has changed. It’s time for guys like (NFL quarterback) Tom Brady and (NHL star) Sidney Crosby and those type of figures to speak up about what is right and clearly in this case, what is unbelievably wrong. That’s the only way we’re going to actually create that unified anger to create that necessary change, especially when you talk about systematic racism.”
Kane, 28, has been vocal with his disgust about the manner of Floyd’s death. On Monday, a video emerged of a white former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on the neck of Floyd, who pleaded aloud that he could not breathe. Three other officers were on the scene.
“This makes my blood boil! All four “officers” need to be jailed for life and it still wouldn’t be enough,” Kane tweeted Tuesday. “The video is all anyone needs to see.”
Friday afternoon, Chauvin, 44, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the case, not first-degree murder as Floyd’s family had expected. No charges have so far been brought on the three other officers, although Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said more charges were possible.
Reacting to the lesser charge on Chauvin, Kane tweeted, “Systemic Racism at its finest.”
“You have (Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey) coming on and talking about how these police officers murdered an innocent black man, and then you have (Freeman) come on and talk about how, ‘Well, we need to wait until we see all the evidence, there’s actually evidence that proves that this was not a crime. And that’s baffling to me,” Kane said.
“All you have to do is watch the tape. Common sense gets pushed down the totem pole so much when we have these police-involved incidents, specifically with black men.”
Kane said his Sharks teammates have been “unbelievably supportive of me and what I stand for. I think hockey, unfortunately, has a different culture than some of the other sports in terms of speaking out and using your voice and speaking your mind.
“I think for me, I’m one of the anomalies when it comes to NHL players in doing that. That’s another part of our problem, is guys being scared to speak their mind and stand up for what is right. This example, one of many unfortunately, have continued for the last number of years and ever since I’ve been alive.”
NFL players such as quarterbacks Derek Carr of the Raiders and Carson Wentz have spoken out about Floyd’s death, which has sparked protests across the United States, including fires in Minneapolis on Thursday.
Kane would like to see more players like Brady and Crosby, arguably the two most recognizable players in their respective sports, do the same.
“I think getting on board, you look at, especially in the NFL, the majority of their teammates are black and are the leaders of their teams,” Kane said. “They have big voices. In hockey, it’s a majority-white league, by far. It’s not even close. So we need to continue to come together, and we talk about it all the time.
“We talk about how sports are for everyone. We talk about sports are where you bring people together, it’s an inclusive thing. But when we talk about our own personal battles outside of sports, there’s a lot of people that are silent on the issues, and they’re important issues. They are issues that have been going on for hundreds of years and we need same type of team mentality to be brought to issues outside of our sport.”