The nationwide protests against racism and police brutality following death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25 have rocked the United States to its core over the last couple of days.
Many public figures, including current and former athletes such as Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Tiger Woods have released statements addressing their personal stance on the matter and expressing their support. A large number of organizations, franchises and even universities have put out statements of their own as well.
Former Buffalo Bills safety George Wilson didn’t shy away from voicing his opinions and concerns on the current state of the country when he joined Howard and Jeremy on Tuesday morning. Wilson, a two-time winner of the Buffalo Bills Walter Payton Man of the Year Award and founder of the George Wilson S.A.F.E.T.Y. Foundation, spoke on the protests, police brutality and how to move forward, his foundation and some of his fond memories while playing for the Bills.
Here is some of what he had to say:
“People are hurting right now, you can see that during the protests throughout the day. They definitely want to honor the memory of all those fallen, but we’re definitely not going to accomplish the ultimate goal by rioting and looting and tearing up our communities. While I don’t condone the riots and the looting, I understand people’s pain and the trauma. Unfortunately, the looting and the riots are just a symptom of the bigger problem. People are just tired of the injustices that have been consistently and continuously experienced by people of color in this country. I think people are tired and fed up.”
“We’ve been through this a lot, but this one feels different, it looks different. In the past you’d only see, primarily, people of color in the streets. But now you hear and you see people of all races and colors and genders and sexual orientation out there fighting for the same cause. And that’s what makes this one different in my opinion.”
“I know this younger generation is bold and courageous. We just have to be able to channel that energy in the right direction in order to enact the change that we seek. And right now, while the emotions are high, in my opinion it’s not the time to do it. Because, in my experience, when your emotions are high your logic is low. So no one is really listening. Everybody is just hurting. We have to get to a point where we stop tearing things down and we clean up and start building back up; building a system that’s reflective and representative of what our population is. And knowing that whenever you’re going into negotiations or you’re trying to improve things, you may not get everything that you wanted in the beginning, but you want to try to move in the right direction and take the first solid and meaningful steps in the right direction. That’s ultimately what this is about. We have to be able to put all the emotions to the side to be able to really make the changes that we need.”
“I have a seven year-old son. I think about him and what life for him will be like. Definitely, I’m concerned. As he grows up, I don’t really understand or know how to tell him how to handle a police encounter. It’s scary. The goal posts are continuously being moved. Its ‘be respectful, be compliant, show your hands, yes sir and no sir and do what they ask you to do,’ but we’ve seen that. We’ve seen video footage of that. And we still see young men of color and young women of color end up with their lives being taken away from them; and it’s happened far too often without those involved being held accountable.”
“You have those that are coming out, trying to create chaos and anarchy and take advantage of the opportunity that they have, because the police and law enforcement are stretched really thin trying to handle numerous situations in their cities. It’s putting a stretch on the resources of law enforcement, but that’s created opportunities in the city for people to be able to smash and grab. It’s certainly taken away from why [the protests] started, why people were in the streets to begin with. [The rioting] is an effort for them to hijack the messaging and focus of the story, but I think that the peaceful protests, they continue to happen day after day in the cities, are showing that people are trying to take that narrative back, and not allow those that aren’t affiliated with the cause to steal the spotlight away from the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all those that came before them.”
You can listen to the entire interview below: