Charles Barkley spoke out Friday about two recent instances of violence against people of color, condemning the death of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging in Georgia earlier this month and the death of George Floyd while in police custody earlier this week. Floyd’s death has sparked protests and rioting in Minnesota, once again bringing the subject of police brutality against people of color to the forefront.
NBA players like former Pacer Stephen Jackson, who considered Floyd his “best friend” and his “twin,” have spoken out about the incident, and Barkley joined the chorus of players hoping for better treatment of the black community and
Barkley spoke with Ernie Johnson on The Stream Room on Friday and shared his thoughts about the tragedy that’s unfolding in Minnesota and connected it to another death that drew nationwide outrage in recent weeks. He called the incidents “tragic” and explained his stance on discussing race with others.
"I’ve got to talk about a couple things that are breaking my heart…”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 29, 2020
“I always feel uncomfortable talking about race because I think very few people have what I call a pure heart. What I mean by a pure heart I mean you have to go into a conversation I don’t have my mind made up, I just want to be fair and honest,” Barkley said. “I just feel sadness about the situation in Georgia: kid out for a jog, he ends up dying. No one wants to see a kid die. And that should never happen. There’s no excuses, that should never happen.”
With Floyd’s death in police hands, especially after footage of him pinned down while an officer kneeled on his neck, Barkley said the incident was particular troubling.
“The thing in Minnesota is really distressing,” Barkley said, noting the video is especially tough to watch. “Clearly the man is subdued. And like I say, I always try to give the cops the benefit of the doubt because I don’t have the courage to in their shoes. But man, that cannot happen under any circumstances whatsoever.”
Barkley said people who struggle with addressing these incidents need to be honest with themselves and support people of color who are asking for justice and positive changes to be made in the wake of tragedy.
“Some of these guys have to take a look at themselves and go ‘Yo, man, that ain’t right.’ I still don’t want those people out their rioting and things like that because that don’t help,” Barkley said. “I think the cops and the public got to get together, especially the black community, and say ‘How can we help somebody?’”
Johnson agreed and said it “defied all description and all sense” to see what was captured on video, and the terrible result of what seemed to be clear police brutality against another person of color. Barkley’s final message was that people need to put aside racial differences and restore justice in Floyd’s death.
“It’s just do the right thing. Let’s don’t worry about who’s black, who’s white, who’s jewish and who’s hispanic,” Barkley said. “Let’s just do the right thing.”
Barkley said his heart was “broken” for Floyd and his family and the community impacted by his death, a sentiment that’s been widely across the NBA and sports communities.