Following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota, protests and riots have broken out around the country. For six straight days, spreading farther and wider each day, cities across America have become a literal representation of the deep hurt caused by the racial divide and chasm in the United States. Athletes have become a face for many, leading marches and peaceful protest and in Tampa, even cleaning up after a night of looting and rioting destroyed a shopping center.
While much attention has been given to the week of mayhem across the map, this has also become a moment to stop and consider the decades of systematic racism and unseen prejudices that led to the death of George Floyd and also Ahmad Aubrey, among others. Although it seems like a lifetime ago, we are currently still in a pandemic meaning that for the most part, things are relatively shut down. There are no live events or sports to distract our attention, meaning—perhaps for the better—the entire country’s attention is on the subject of racism and what can be done to move forward to a better reality. This is the case for many Florida Gators coaches and players as well, who have taken to social media to express their mind during this time.
Here’s what they’ve had to say...
University of Florida President Kent Fuchs:
“Friends and colleagues, our hearts and spirits are heavy as we grieve the needless police killing of George Floyd and other killing around the country due to racism, ignorance and hate. I condemn these acts of violence and share in the anger, the frustration and the sorrow felt by so many. The killing in Minneapolis brings to the fire the racims, injustice and violence that so often are direct at, and experienced by Africa Americans. For me there has never been a more urgent need to come together against racism and hate and in support of justice.
“Always, and particularly now as we live with COVID-19, we each need to be seen for our full humanity, to be welcomed and know that we are valued. And so, I ask everyone at UF and throughout the Gator Nation to consider their actions, sphere of influence and how they can personally be part of positive change. Take time to listen to those affected and engage in self-reflection and education. I also ask that we work to question our own biases and judgments. As individuals, and by joining together, we can and must work each day to ensure that every human being is nurtured, cherished and respected.”
Florida football Head Coach Dan Mullen:
“I stand in unison with President Fuchs, my current and former players, coaches, and all others that have used their voice to condemn racism and oppression.
"During these difficult times, we need unity, compassion and a love for each other more than ever. As we slowly return to the freedoms our daily lives from this global pandemic, my hope is that we can work together towards a society with freedom, opportunity and social justice for ALL.”
Defensive line coach David Turner:
“I’ve tried not to discuss politics or religion but we are at a critical time in our country! In my opinion we are way past Democrats and Republicans and should be discussing what’s right and what’s wrong! Every single day I wake up and say a prayer for me, my family and my players! Whether we are Black/African AMERICANS or White AMERICANS we need to realize we just want to be treated fair and Just! Every Black Man is not a Thug!”
The next day, Turner went on to share, “If this doesn’t move you, something is ‘bad’ wrong!
“Let me make something clear, I’m not condoning violence or the riots and looting! I don’t think ALL POLICEMEN ARE BAD! If my posts offend you, unfollow me!”
Gators wide receiver Jacob Copeland:
“Can’t lie I woke up in my feelings how life is right now for the culture. I know it’s good in some people, and hatred in others. I think like “d*mn I’m really out here gotta fear for my life.” God protect me from all evil.
“Some people think because we play division 1 football it is just ok. I’m human just like anyone else and have to protect myself at all cost. It’s some sick people [for real]!”
Gators wide receiver Trevon Grimes:
“Crazy world we live in .. Count your blessings and remain faithful to the man above as he has the Final say.”
Gators linebackers coach Christian Robinson:
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. - John 13:34"
Former Gator defensive lineman Titus O'Neil (Thaddeus Bullard):
I know you want to help, It starts with acceptance of TRUTH. OUR KIDS, Grandkids, Brothers, Sisters, Mother’s and Fathers are NOT TELLING AND HAVE NOT BEEN TELLING YOU LIES. Our Truths need to be addressed, Your Truths need to be Addressed and once you hear our truths and work towards changing them, It is THEN THAT “WE” can change the World. When “Me” becomes “WE” Amazing things can and Will happen.
I don’t Condone the Violence, yet I understand.
I don’t Condone the Looting, And I’ll Never Understand.
I just want to LIVE...In a World where Lives Matter that Historically Haven’t and Voices are heard by people who seemingly have been Deaf for Far too Long."