Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown reflects on his team’s demonstration
‘We ride through Kenosha and by it every day when we are there. … It could have been us.’
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – “Power and advantage.”
Those were the words that came to Milwaukee Bucks guard Sterling Brown’s mind when he thought about the incidents of police brutality involving himself in 2018 and Jacob Blake last week in Wisconsin.
“Police using their power and advantage. That is something that has to be touched on,” Brown told The Undefeated after the Bucks advanced to the conference semifinals on Aug. 29. “Those guys are held to no level of standards. They do whatever they want to do and get away with it. It’s bulls—.
“What is going on in Kenosha right now is terrible. [Black people] … are getting harassed. They are getting beat. They are getting the lowest of the low as far as treatment and respect. They get none. It’s terrible. I now encourage whoever that has a platform and have the ability to send the resources there. Prayers. Time. Love. There needs to just be attention there, because they need it.”
Blake was shot seven times in the back by a police officer after he leaned into his SUV on Aug. 23 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with three of his children inside. Four bullets hit Blake, who is now paralyzed from the waist down.
Brown joined George Hill in his decision not to play in a playoff game Aug. 26 to protest the Blake shooting. NBA All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo and the rest of the Bucks followed suit, as did the other NBA teams playing in the postseason at Walt Disney World. The WNBA, MLB, MLS and tennis star Naomi Osaka also missed action in protest.
After considering ending the season, the NBA players decided to continue and were able to get stronger commitments from team owners in their quest to use arenas as voting locations and push for police reform.
Brown has stated he was wrongfully arrested and a victim of excessive force that included the use of a stun gun on Jan. 26, 2018, in Milwaukee. He was stopped at about 2 a.m. for parking illegally across two spots reserved for disabled drivers at a Walgreens. A Milwaukee police officer stepped on Brown’s ankle during his arrest while other police officers joked about any potential civil rights complaint he might make, according to body camera footage. Brown filed a civil rights suit against the city of Milwaukee and its police department that is still pending.
The following is a Q&A with Brown about the team’s decision.
How have you been taking everything in since the Blake shooting?
I’ve been taking it fine. There is just a lot of s— that needs to be done and a lot of things that need to be touched on. I felt like we’re doing that.
Why did the Bucks ultimately decide to protest just minutes before a playoff game?
A couple guys voiced their opinion, with me being one of them. It was spur-of-the-moment. It wasn’t planned.
Some guys felt the need to express themselves and we stood behind that. The league stood behind us. The rest of the teams and the other guys did. It had the impact we wanted.
What was your reaction when you saw the video of what happened to Blake?
For me, it was like, ‘What’s next?’ … What can we do next to keep changing the narrative, because the same thing has been happening for years. What can I do next? Obviously, I was upset, angry and all of that. But it was like, ‘What is next ? What do I do next?’
Are you happy with how the NBA and team owners have responded?
It’s a step in the right direction. There were a few days of long processing. Guys expressing themselves. There were a lot of emotions. A lot of thoughts. A lot of strategic planning. I applaud and commend our men, the NBPA [National Basketball Players Association], the [union] board, [board member Andre] Iguodala, [NBPA president] Chris Paul. Those guys were doing the best they can. I commend them for that.
It is definitely a step in the right direction. We got some key things on the list and on the agenda that we touched upon. But there is a whole lot of other things we need to get done.
Did the Bucks feel pressure to boycott a game because the Blake incident took place in Wisconsin?
It wasn’t pressure. It was just what we wanted to do. It was something we needed to get done. We ride through Kenosha and by it every day when we are there. We got kids on our team that are living there, walking on those streets. It could have been us. I’m a prime example. It could be any of us, really. It wasn’t necessarily a need for us to do something. We felt it. A few guys on the team felt it.
We stood with each other. And we’re not done. We got a lot of things coming for the city. We have a lot of things we are going to do in the state. Just stay tuned.