At a white supremacy rally in Charlottesville last weekend, violence erupted between members of a neo-Nazi faction and the anti-fascist protesters who showed up to decry their hate and bigotry, leaving countless people injured and one woman dead after one of the white nationalists drove his car into the crowd.
In the aftermath of those shocking and disturbing scenes, numerous current and former NBA players – including LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – have taken to social media and other platforms to speak out about racism in America and in many cases to direct their criticism at Donald Trump and his stunning reluctance to denounce the hate group at the center of the conflict as well as his insistence on assigning blame to the anti-fascist protesters involved.
Now, Memphis Grizzlies coach David Fizdale has joined the fray. Perhaps best known for his epic “Take that for data” rant after a playoff game last spring, Fizdale spoke to The Commercial Appeal about the events in Charlottesville and gave a passionate rebuke of Trump and his response to the situation.
“It’s disgusting (to equate the Nazi marchers with Black Lives Matter protesters). What are you taking about here, how can you even say that? You watch those people march up the street with their little — they’re so ridiculous looking with their tiki torches, they’ve actually got tiki torches, that says enough — but you see them marching up the street and what’s coming out of their mouths, and you tell me that they’re just there quietly protesting?
And you’re telling me that there were some good people in that crowd? You can’t say that. If you’re standing next to these people with a torch, and whether your mouth is closed or open, if they’re saying that, on the way to that march, and they’re saying that, you get out of that line. You get as far away from that line as possible. So the fact that they was in unison, marching, saying all of these things, you can’t tell me there’s a good person in there. And for (President Trump) to put those protesters that were there to stop them in the same boat as those awful, evil people that are there to just wreak havoc on that beautiful city, I’ve been to that city, Charlottesville is an awesome city.”
The city of Memphis is obviously no stranger to the violence and injustice that has accompanied the Civil Rights movement in America, and Fizdale spoke at length about Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and how his message is more prescient than ever.
Fizdale went on to talk about the controversy at the heart of last weekend’s protests – the taking down of Confederate monuments that stand as ongoing symbols of hate and this country’s sordid history of oppression. He didn’t hesitate to argue in favor of taking them all down, making specific references to local statues honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.
The full interview can be seen below: