Harrison Barnes and the Kings played with heavy hearts Tuesday night at Golden 1 Center. The Minnesota Timberwolves did, too.
Hours before Sacramento's 134-120 loss to Minnesota, a Minneapolis jury convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin was found guilty on second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after killing Floyd last Memorial Day.
Darnella Frazier, who was 17 at the time, filmed Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, call for his mother and protest "I can't breathe" as Chauvin, a white man and a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis police department, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for over nine minutes. Frazier's video sparked outrage across the globe, leading to protests of systemic racism, police brutality and calls from activists to reform, defund or, in some cases, abolish the police.
Barnes said his thoughts and prayers were with Floyd's family "because, regardless of the verdict, he's just not here anymore." But the 28-year-old said he believes the criminal-justice system requires revolutionary change, not evolutionary improvement.
"Early on this summer, a lot of people were saying 'defund the police,' and a lot of times, people are separating that from abolition," Barnes said Tuesday in a postgame video conference with reporters. "And at the end of the day, there are still people being put in jail. The carceral system isn't being reduced. And people can say progress is being made because the verdict was passed down in one way or another. And yes, the officer that was charged in this murder was held accountable.
"But justice is George Floyd being alive today, and I think until we're courageous enough, bold enough and, frankly, just transparent in having the conversation about re-imagining what our justice system looks like as it is today, then we're not gonna achieve progress. Or, at least, the progress that we hope to see."
Before Chauvin's trial began last month, the United States House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The bill, which still must be passed in the Senate, would bar "no knock" warrants at the federal level, make chokeholds a civil rights violation at all levels of government and reform qualified immunity.
Other legislative efforts have fallen short. Not even a half-mile from Golden 1 Center, California lawmakers in September failed to pass a number of proposed bills, including legislation that would've made it possible for officers who committed misconduct to be stripped of their badges.
Not long before Chauvin's trial was about to be read, a white police officer in Columbus, Ohio shot and killed 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant. Bryant's family said she called the police for help that afternoon, and police-released bodycam footage showed the officer shoot in Bryant's direction at least four times.
"It's an emotional -- it's a heavy thing, and this is far from over, systematically," Barnes said of the Kings preparing to play after Chauvin's conviction, noting police brutality "touches so many people."
"There needs to be a lot of change. It's just heavy on the heart."