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Former Maryland student-athletes react to Jacob Blake shooting, NBA protests

These Terps didn’t have a chance to share their thoughts on racial injustice during their playing days; now they are.

Orlando Magic v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Five Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Professional athletes, as well as many in college, have been using their platforms to take a stance against racial injustice and police brutality this summer, as shown around the sports world last week.

The Milwaukee Bucks decided not to play their playoff game against the Orlando Magic Wednesday in response to watching Jacob Blake get shot seven times in the back by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with his three kids sitting in the car. The Magic refused to accept the game as a forfeit in solidarity, and soon enough all of other NBA teams had chosen not to play their upcoming games. Many teams across other professional sports opted to do the same.

Prior to the past year or so, many athletes feared the clear repercussions of speaking their minds and refusing to “shut up and dribble.” The consequences were made evident with Colin Kaepernick and so many others in the past. Now with a chance to do so, several former Maryland athletes sent Testudo Times their thoughts on the events of the past week.

Tre Watson:

Maryland football 2018; First Team All-Big Ten selection after leading the league in tackles and interceptions; played in the XFL for the Dallas Renegades last season

If there’s anything I’m gonna say right now, it’s that what is going on right now is an extremely critical time in our history as a country and everyone is going to be a part of where we end up going forward. What’s going on right now is a culmination of what has been building up not for the last few weeks or months, but for years and years.

What I’m proud of right now is seeing these professional athletes have the opportunity to literally shut the sports world in our country down to make sure that social injustice and police brutality are no longer swept under the rug. What the NBA did has never happened in my lifetime or anytime for that matter which makes it that much more significant. They’re message and everyone who is speaking our right now MUST be heard.

One thing that I feel like I want to say is that so many people are so off base when it comes to the situations that so many black people face when police are involved. If you aren’t black, then you can’t possibly understand what it feels like to be pulled over or stopped simply because someone has an irrational suspicion of you based solely on how you look.

What needs to be done is that people need to understand why people are outraged, why they say “black lives matter”, and why this can’t go on any longer. I’ve seen people break it down in many ways over the last few months and yet people still don’t understand. When someone says “(insert ethnicity/religion/etc) lives matter,” last time I checked that doesn’t say that anyone else matters any less. It literally is saying that this group matters and they’re probably saying it because something is happening to that group disproportionately that is not ok. If you can’t comprehend that, then you are part of the problem and that is what needs to change.

My platform is and has always been different of that than these professionals today who are front and center in this movement right now. But nonetheless, I have my opinion just like everyone else and everyone needs to be able to join this conversation and learn something either about the people who are being hurt or about themselves. Maybe then, we can actually move forward as a country instead of sitting here in 2020 dealing with problems caused by the fact that people value others less because they have more melanin in their skin.

Walt Williams

Maryland basketball 1988-92 (HOF inductee); holds program record for season scoring average; played in the NBA from 1992-2003

What we saw in Kenosha, WI was horrific. Jacob Blake didn’t deserve to be shot multiple times while his young children watched. When you have multiple officers on the scene and an unarmed man, it feels like the outcome should’ve been different. It’s about the value of human life no matter the race. Things MUST change. Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

Will Likely III

Maryland football 2013-16; Two time All-Big Ten selection; 2015 Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year

As far whats going on in the world. I feel this is a never ending story. Everyone knows what’s going on. There’s no hiding it now. Throughout my life I’ve heard many stories.

I will share two personal stories/experience ex. (1) from great grandmother who lived in Selma Alabama all of her life and played a small part during that segregation period/MLK area. (2) The way the justice system treated my mom, who is innocent, unfairly, which I watched with my own two eyes in the courtroom and took a big toll on me. (this is during the time I was thinking about entering the draft early or coming back to school for my senior year. My roots are deep.

Killings of blacks, injustice, poor education funding, red-lining, etc is nothing new which is SAD. Plenty of things need to change, it’s not hard to tell.

The hard truth is, this/most countries are built off racism and blacks and minorities happen to be at the bottom.

I believe a lot of things will change with this generation. Even though it will be a battle, the outcome will be better for everyone, most importantly my daughter.

Bruce Perry:

2001 ACC Offensive Player of the Year for Maryland football; played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2004-06.

2020 has been nothing but short of the joyous moments we came into the year expecting. Just as years past, we entered it with promise and high hopes for change only to be crushed with early disappointment and sadness.

First we lost one of our brightest stars in Kobe... Then the horrors of a pandemic swept our globe. Adding insult to injury we have bore witness to many social injustices that saw our African American brothers and sisters fall victim to police violence, brutality, and flat out executions in our streets. Will the next three months have us witness the change our 44th president spoke of? Or will we be subject to more loss, hurt, and pain?

If America is no doubt the land of the free ... why is it that not all of its citizens are treated equally in the eyes of lady liberty? Why is is so easy for some to hate when love is such a better option?

America... wake up from this nightmare.

Other Maryland athletes and coaches spoke out on social media as well: