People across the country and around the globe have been making their voices heard in response to George Floyd’s death. Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25 after Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. As Minneapolis emerged as an epicenter for protests against systemic racism and police brutality, students, instructors, administrators, and coaches at the University of Minnesota have been part of this conversation.
The players were the first to speak out, starting with Rashod Bateman:
My name is Rashod Bateman. I’m an African Male from South Georgia. I never thought in a million years I would be scared to walk outside. I pray that we all wake up and start loving each other the correct way and stop taking each other lives. No matter the color, we are all one. pic.twitter.com/KaW3AWpNJP— Rashod Bateman (@R_bateman2) May 26, 2020
Seth Green, Tanner Morgan, and Brevyn Spann-Ford joined Bateman in sharing their emotions, personal stories, and support for everyone who was dealing with the killing of George Floyd.
Black people are literally saying “stop killing us” and there are people saying “But...”— Seth Green (@seth_mgreen) May 27, 2020
My heart is deeply saddened. What happened is unacceptable. My prayers go out to George Floyd, his family, and our entire country. This is truly unacceptable, and should have never happened. I love the state of MN deeply and know this is not what it stands for. John 16:33— Tanner Morgan (@T_morg2) May 28, 2020
these past couple days haven’t been easy being a mixed male (black and white). i’m so thankful that my parents taught me how to listen to people’s thoughts and opinions and put myself in other peoples shoes. hope everyone is safe during these crazy times, spread love n positivity— brev spann-ford (@brevynford_03) May 29, 2020
19 years old when I was walking home from McDonald’s. Was pulled up on by a squad car then put in cuffs at gun point on a sidewalk in the middle of dinky with my roommate for “fitting a discription” https://t.co/rQ6TSEDSPf— Seth Green (@seth_mgreen) May 29, 2020
The players were supported in their message by head football coach P.J. Fleck, who was among the first college coaches at the University of Minnesota and across the country to speak out. He began by issuing a statement last Friday:
On Monday, Fleck appeared on ESPN First Take and spoke at length about the impact Floyd’s death has had on his players and the need “to listen and have empathy and to be very real about what is going on with the social injustice around us.”
You can watch his full comments here:
Tuesday morning, Fleck spoke with Paul Allen on KFAN and was emotional in talking about his conversations over the last week with the players and their families.
You can listen to the full interview here:
Gophers HC P.J. Fleck on Social Justice & College Football— KFAN1003 (@KFAN1003) June 2, 2020
The Twin Cities Sports Leader https://t.co/SeM8vnRZtf
Defensive line coach Chad Wilt also posted a thoughtful response to Twitter about being committed to creating change and promoting love in his personal life:
I have so many thoughts that have been brewing not just for days but weeks, months and years on this. I know I will never be able to fully feel the struggle of the black community. I hurt for the George Floyd family. May we all be better and love better, beginning with me. pic.twitter.com/IwiZvQ4YOu— Chad Wilt (@ChadWilt) May 31, 2020
Gopher football players have continued to take to social media to reflect on recent events:
Several former and current players have also participated in protests. Carter Coughlin, Antoine Winfield Jr., Thomas Barber, Kamal Martin, and Clay Geary protested on the I-35W Mississippi River bridge on Sunday:
Seth Green and Brevyn Spann-Ford also protested on 38th and Chicago:
“Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for you are with us; your rod and your staff, they comfort us.” Psalm 23:4 pic.twitter.com/KF2VwWwfiG— Seth Green (@seth_mgreen) June 1, 2020
i’m here for my culture, community, and my ancestors and the people who sacrificed for my human rights pic.twitter.com/wmdFnh16Qi— brev spann-ford (@brevynford_03) May 31, 2020