George Floyd’s family has been outspoken in the days since the Minneapolis man was killed by police in the city, and his famous friend has joined the outcry.
Retired NBA swingman Stephen Jackson has delivered an emotional plea during a protest rally in Minneapolis, which has captured the hearts of the US.
Graphic footage of a white police officer pinning Floyd, an unarmed black man, to the ground - before he was pronounced dead - has prompted fierce outrage across the US.
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Jackson was longtime friends with Floyd, their relationship sealed the moment they met, Jackson said on Thursday.
And at a protest rally, he delivered ‘powerful’ words for his friend.
“I’m here because they’re not gonna demean the character of George Floyd, my twin,” he said, while wearing a black hoodie with the words: “RIP George Floyd” across his chest.
“A lot of times, when police do things they know that’s wrong, the first thing they try to do is cover it up, and bring up their background — to make it seem like the bulls — that they did was worthy. When was murder ever worthy? But if it’s a black man, it’s approved.
“You can’t tell me, when that man has his knee on my brother’s neck — taking his life away, with his hand in his pocket — that that smirk on his face didn’t say, ‘I’m protected.’
“You can’t tell me that he didn’t feel that it was his duty to murder my brother, and that he knew he was gonna get away with it.
“You can’t tell me that wasn’t the look on his face.”
The Athletic reporter Jon Krawczynski filmed the speech and said: “Stephen Jackson with just about the most powerful words I’ve ever heard.”
Stephen Jackson with just about the most powerful words I’ve ever heard pic.twitter.com/7guc6O4T6W
— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) May 29, 2020
Earlier, appearing on NBC’s ‘Today Show’, Jackson said he and Floyd were introduced by a mutual friend years ago.
Their resemblance to each other led them to ask, “Who yo’ daddy?,” Jackson recalled with a smile.
“And it went from there. We always hung together, every time we went to Houston it was my first stop, pick him up and see where he was in Cuney Homes [housing complex],” he said.
“Being a professional athlete, so many people abuse your friendship and your kindness and he was one of those people that genuinely supported me; he didn’t call unless he really needed it.
“You don’t have many people that genuinely support you without any motives and Floyd was that guy.”
Jackson affectionately called Floyd “Twin.”
Stephen Jackson ‘destroyed’ by Floyd’s death
Police had Floyd in handcuffs after an employee at Cup Foods called police alleging that the 46-year-old had tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill, but officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, as Floyd pleaded for his life and onlookers, who recorded the event, begged him to stop.
Jackson, who also hosts the “All the Smoke” podcast with former teammate Matt Barnes, said he was asleep on the couch with his daughter, when he woke up and saw a video sent by his girlfriend’s mother; the two frequently discuss police brutality issues.
“And I’m thinking it’s just another video that she’s sending me, another black man getting murdered by the police, and I didn’t really pay attention to it,” Jackson said.
But then he saw numerous messages from friends.
“‘You see what they did to Twin in Minnesota?’ and I jumped up, screamed, scared my daughter, almost broke my hand punching stuff because I was so mad,” Jackson said.
“I’m the type of guy, I get into a full face of tears when I see a homeless man on the street that I can’t help.
“So let alone my best friend on TV for the world to see, getting killed over a fraud charge or a fake $20 bill.
“It just destroyed me, and I haven’t been the same since I seen it.”
A Minneapolis officer suffocated this man in the middle of the street for nearly 10 minutes.
This was murder.
RIP George Floyd 🙏🏾👑 pic.twitter.com/qIuq2Be5OI
— 247 Live Culture (@247LC) May 26, 2020
Not long after getting the news, Jackson recorded a video to Instagram, a white hoodie pulled over his hair, his hand rubbing his eyes.
“This what I got to wake up to, huh? This what I got to wake up to,” he said.
“... My boy was doing what he’s supposed to do, y’all go and kill my brother man.”
In the video of the final moment of his life, Floyd cries out for his deceased mother. When ‘Today Show’ host Craig Melvin mentions this, Jackson drops his head and is choked up.
“It hurt man, it hurt because I knew that was a cry for help,” Jackson said.
“I’m a black man and I’m a strong black man and I know Floyd — that’s a cry for help. We don’t scream our mother’s name like that unless we know something is wrong and our life is in jeopardy and we can’t control it.
“That was a cry for help. He even cried out for his kids.
“His kids had to see that — I was talking to his daughter’s mother yesterday and the whole time I’m talking to her, the daughter is screaming.
“She has to see this, the whole world has to see this, and she has to deal with this for the rest of her life. It’s just not right, man.”
Shalise Manza Young - Yahoo Sport US