Sports world reacts on Sunday to death of George Floyd

"I will not bear witness further to the degradation of human life," says New Jersey Devils defenceman Connor Carrick, who weighed in following a Saturday night of destruction across the United States by those protesting the death of George Floyd.

'We all can make a difference, and I hope we all will,' says NHLer Connor Carrick

Devils defenceman Connor Carrick took to social media Sunday morning to voice his frustration six days after George Floyd, an unarmed and handcuffed black man, died in Minnesota when police officer Derek Chauvin used his knee on the 46-year-old's neck to pin him to the ground. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/File)

New Jersey Devils defenceman Connor Carrick, who has focused on personal growth with the NHL on pause during the COVID-19 pandemic, weighed in following Saturday's protests over the death of George Floyd, and as the night wore on, the riots that ensued across the country.

The sixth-year NHLer recently began the Connor Carrick Podcast aimed at improving his physical, mental and spiritual well-being, but on Sunday morning took to social media to voice his frustration. Six days earlier, Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed and handcuffed black man, died in Minnesota when police officer Derek Chauvin used his knee on Floyd's neck to pin him to the ground.

Chauvin has since been fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. 

Peaceful protests have stretched across the U.S., but some have turned violent, with people throwing bottles at officers, setting buildings ablaze, burning police cars and looting stores in protest. In Minneapolis and Seattle, police responded by firing tear gas to push back crowds. 

"I will not bear witness further to the degradation of human life. People are dying," the 26-year-old Carrick of Orland Park, Ill., wrote on Twitter. "Families are being robbed of their loved ones presence and gifts. Mr. Floyd had his life sucked out of him."

Carrick, a mental health advocate, added it's time "we see, acknowledge, listen to the struggle of minorities."

He also called for individual change in order to foster change nationally.

WATCH | Police fire tear gas on protesters:

Protesters flee tear gas in Minneapolis

2 years ago
Duration 5:02
CBC senior correspondent Susan Ormiston reports from Minneapolis, where police fire tear gas on protesters

'The images are tough to stomach'

"We must celebrate, champion, lift those in life fighting a battle more difficult than our own," said Carrick, a former Toronto Maple Leafs blue-liner who has appeared in 230 NHL regular-season games.

"I can make a difference. No matter how small, we all can. And I hope that we all will."

Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow, 32, grew up in Cleveland the son of an African-American police officer.

On Sunday morning, he shared on Twitter that he's "never felt racial tension as much as I do today."

"The images I'm seeing across America are tough to stomach but I can only hope we're finally standing on the precipice of change."

Former NHL goalie-turned broadcast analyst Kevin Weekes posted the following message late Saturday night.

Earlier Saturday, the statue of hockey legend Mario Lemieux was spray painted by protestors outside PPG Place Arena in Pittsburgh.

Lemieux, who played a part in five Stanley Cup titles with the Penguins, including twice as a player, saved hockey in Pittsburgh by buying a bankrupt franchise.

"I'm very disappointed because this was a peaceful protest for something that was very serious, and this does nothing to honour the memory of someone who died," Pittsburgh police Chief Scott Schubert told the Post-Gazette newspaper in reference to vandalism and graffiti.

German soccer players pay tribute

Marcus Thuram took a moment in apparent tribute to George Floyd after scoring in Borussia Monchengladbach's 4-1 win over Union Berlin in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

The Gladbach forward was left free at the far post to score the home side's second goal with a header in the 41st minute. He briefly accepted teammates' congratulations, then dropped his left knee to the ground and rested his right arm on his right thigh as he bowed his head in reflection. He spent five seconds in this position before getting up again to continue.

WATCH | Bundesliga players honour Floyd:

Bundesliga players honour George Floyd with their goal celebrations

2 years ago
Duration 0:40
During Sunday's Bundesliga action, Marcus Thuram takes a knee and Jadon Sancho unveils a shirt that says 'Justice For George Floyd'.

Also Sunday, Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho celebrated the first of his three goals in a 6-1 win against Paderborn by removing his jersey to reveal the handwritten statement "Justice For George Floyd" across the front of his yellow undershirt.

Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund celebrates scoring his club's second goal against SC Paderborn 07 on Sunday with a 'Justice for George Floyd' shirt. (Lars Baron/Getty Images)

On Saturday, Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie wore an armband with the handwritten message Justice for George around his left arm. McKennie later said on Twitter: "We have to stand up for what we believe in and I believe that it is time that we are heard!"

CFL condemns racism

The Canadian Football league tweeted out a statement on Sunday, as did CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie.

The CFL statement reads "Just as we celebrate diversity, we in the Canadian Football League condemn racism in all of its forms, silent and systemic or blatant and violent. In particular, no person should fear for his or her freedom, safety, or life because of the colour of his or her skin."

Commissioner Ambrosie also took to Twitter, writing "As we watch events unfold in the US this weekend, the #CFL has issued a statement condemning racism. It's also important to acknowledge that our country has its own problems with race and our league's history is far from perfect even if it is marked by many firsts for black athletes and coaches."

"I cannot pretend, coming from a place of privilege, to understand what it feels like for those whose lives are marked by the racism they must face every day. But I can stand with them. And I always will."

Five of the CFL's nine teams; the Montreal Alouettes, Ottawa Redblacks, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and B.C. Lions, tweeted out individual statements to condemn racism and support diversity and inclusion.

Floyd's death opens old wounds for NBA's Sefolosha

Thabo Sefolosha knows what it's like to be a black man, on the ground, being beaten by police officers.

Such was the scenario when George Floyd died in Minneapolis last week.

And five years ago, Sefolosha found himself in a similarly frightening place.

"I was just horrified by what I saw," Sefolosha said. "That could have been me."

Time has not healed all wounds for Sefolosha, the NBA veteran who said he was attacked by a group of New York Police Department officers in April 2015 while they were arresting him outside a nightclub in the city's Chelsea neighbourhood. The leg that was broken in the fracas is fine now. The emotional pain roared back last week when he saw video of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air in the final moments of his life as a white police officer — subsequently charged with murder — pressed a knee on his neck.

Sefolosha has seen the video. He hasn't watched much news since. His experience with police in New York has left him with a deep distrust of law enforcement, the pangs of angst flooding back even when he walks into NBA arenas and sees uniformed officers. And the latest example of police brutality left him even more upset.

"People talk about a few rotten apples," Sefolosha said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But you know, in my experience and from what we're seeing, I think it's deeper than that as a culture that's deeply rooted in it, to be honest. That's just my honest opinion. I think it's really … part of a culture where it's deeper than just a few bad apples."

Raptors call for change

"As an organization and a community, we come from all over the world. We are diverse. We speak different languages. But our shared humanity unites us," the Toronto Raptors said in a released statement Saturday night.

"When we see racism and violence committed against someone because of the colour of their skin, we should, and do, feel outrage. We cannot accept this. While we grieve for those we have lost, we know grieving is not enough. We must honour their memory by acknowledging these ills exist, confronting them, and coming together to create a better society. It is far past time."

With files from The Associated Press & Field Level Media

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