CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As people continue to protest racism and police brutality all over this country, some Carolina Panthers joined in making their voices heard here in Charlotte in the Justice Walk for George Floyd. Linebacker Shaq Thompson and safety Tre Boston was with hundreds of protesters as they walked through the neighborhoods of Dilworth and Myers Park.
Shaq tweeted out earlier today that he would attend the march and was a man of his word as he showed up at Freedom Park. And even though both he and Boston were front and center in the protest, they refused to speak to the media afterwards because it wasn’t about them. It was for the cause and the movement.
“He (Shaq) wanted to blend in,” said Kass Ottley of Seeking Justice CLT, who organized this event. “Sometimes when they come out, the event becomes about them and that’s not what he wanted and I thought that was a beautiful thing.”
Even though, they did not want any attention, the players certainly did everything everyone else did. They walked all 3 miles. They took a knee for 9 minutes at the intersection of Queens Road and Selwyn Avenue. They went along with the chants of “I can’t breathe”. Just one of the hundred working to enact change.
This peaceful walk through these residential neighborhoods was powerful and very impactful. Just a look at some of the faces of the residents spoke volumes. Some stood in their yards with signs of support. Some chanted with the crowds and held up their fists in support. Some were even moved to tears as people walked by and the location for this peaceful protest wasn’t a coincidence.
“This is one of the richest, wealthiest, neighborhoods in Charlotte,” said Ottley. “I wanted them to see it. I wanted them to feel it. It’s different when you see something on TV. You can turn the channel. But when someone is outside of your house, somebody is walking across your grass, somebody is in your neighborhood-- that is totally different. I want them to understand that I need them to use their white privilege, and their money and their time to help us build something beautiful for everyone.”
It was definitely a successful protest because it was peaceful. And the fact that a couple of Panthers were among the protesters was something extra. It is something Kass hopes becomes a trend among other Charlotte professional athletes.
“We need more players to step up. We need more Panthers players to step up. This is your city. You have a voice, you have a platform-- use it."
Other Panthers players did joined in during the protest including Andre Smith, Chris Manhertz, and Ian Thomas.