In the wake of George Floyd’s death this week, former NBA player and Iowa State star Royce White sent out a text to his friends in the sports world to organize a small peaceful protest in Minneapolis. He was only expecting a few hundred people at most.
By the time they hit the streets and took over Interstate 35W on Friday afternoon, thousands of people had joined in.
This protest was started via text message by former NBA player Royce White with 200 people. It’s now morphed into thousands of people marching down I35. pic.twitter.com/iQCThMboX3— robertklemko (@RobertKlemko) May 29, 2020
“This just shows by word of mouth how much we can come together,” White told the massive crowd of people kneeling and standing on the interstate bridge through a megaphone. “We sent out a text message about 24 hours ago. We didn’t want a Facebook event. We didn’t want people to try and come do something that’s dangerous and violent. The word of mouth worked.”
White earned Big 12 Player of the Year honors at Iowa State, and was selected by the Houston Rockets in the first round of the 2012 draft. He ended up playing just three games in the league for the Sacramento Kings, however, as his widely publicized general anxiety disorder became a battleground during his time in the NBA.
The Minneapolis native was just the latest sports figure to speak out after Floyd died in police custody this week and a video of his arrest — which showed a white Minneapolis police officer putting his knee on Floyd’s neck for seven minutes while he yelled, “I can’t breathe” — went viral. The officer has since been arrested, and is facing murder and manslaughter charges.
Floyd’s death has sparked mass protests and riots both in Minneapolis and in other cities across the country. While the worst of those protests have been all over the news and social media on Friday — businesses and a police precinct were severely damaged on Thursday night in Minneapolis — White’s goal was to show that not all protests had to be violent and destructive.
And after seeing the large turnout on Friday, he more than accomplished that goal.
“We have successfully proved that we can protest in peace, despite all the stories that they’ve shown on the news lately,” White told the crowd.
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