Asked for reaction Wednesday to the news that the two Louisville police officers whose bullets killed Breonna Taylor in her home will not face any charges, Steve Kerr made no attempt to conceal his disgust.
“It's just so demoralizing, so discouraging,” Kerr said. “And I just keep thinking about the generation American kids of any color. Is this the way we want to raise them? Is this the country we want to live in?
“There's just so much violence. There's so much shooting. And it comes in so many forms, whether it's school shootings, vigilantism, or police brutality, neighbor-to-neighbor. There's just so much violence.”
“And it's demoralizing when we can't be accountable or hold anyone to account for it.”
The news was fresh to Kerr, who learned of it shortly after the Warriors completed their first team workout since March, when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced the NBA to halt all athletic activity. The session offered maybe 90 minutes of light activity, a chance for teammates to break a sweat while renewing acquaintances.
What the news did not do was fully submerge the unrest in the real world, much of it rooted in the increasingly toxic relationship between law enforcement and communities of color.
The news that the only officer to face charges in the Taylor case will be tried not for her death but for firing 10 shots into an adjacent apartment, injuring no one, struck a nerve among justice crusaders all over the planet.
“I think we demand justice. Actually, I know we demand justice,” Warriors guard Jordan Poole said. “Those who are supporting the African American community, it’s definitely unfair how we're being treated, and the way things are going. But we need to be heard. And I think that we won't stop, I know that we want to stop, until something changes.”
Poole turned 21 in June. He’s a native of Milwaukee, a 30-minute drive from Kenosha, where police officers shot Jacob Blake seven times, on video, intensifying the global pleas for equality. Blake survived but might be paralyzed for life.
“Our ancestors have been fighting, some fought their entire lives to at least get us to the point where we are now,” Poole said. “It would be a slap in the face to them if we were to stop. So, we're just going to as hard as you can. We need justice, especially for Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake, a Wisconsin native, and everybody. We stop until our voices are heard.”
The NBA, a league in which roughly 75 percent of the players are Black, has been relatively active in promoting racial and social justice. It experienced a re-awakening in May, when the life of George Floyd came to an end under the knee of a Minneapolis cop – again on video.
Kerr’s Twitter profile shows two Warriors jerseys, side by side, with the name George on the left and Floyd on the right. All due respect to Devean George and Sleepy Floyd, Kerr’s message is unrelated to former Warriors.
It’s more about his willingness to challenge the immorality of a country founded on deadly violence, built on deadly violence and still perpetuating deadly violence.
“We have so many people who care about this country and so many people who want change and believe in equal justice for Black and Brown communities,” Kerr said.
“And yet we don't have it. It’s such a tough hill to climb. The long history of racism that we have in our country continues, and it continues in the form of this kind of violence, state-sanctioned violence, over and over again, that we're seeing. And it's devastating.”
NBA coaches and players of all colors have made frequent references to seeking justice for Taylor since entering the Orlando-area “bubble” in July. The shooting of Blake on Aug. 23 prompted a walkout, beginning with the Bucks but followed by all remaining teams, forcing a three-day postponement of playoff games.
Asked about potential strategies toward police reform, Kerr kept it simple.
“It's a difficult question, or it's an easy question, depending on your perspective,” he said. “From a legal perspective, I don't really know what reforms have to be made. From a human perspective, it's let's actually take care of each other and look after one another.
“We've got to find a way to take a step forward in this country and get away from this horrible cycle of violence that continues, and that has been happening for so long. It's a matter of humanity.”
Well, yes, it is. But there was little evidence of it Wednesday in Louisville, where Kentucky attorney general Daniel Cameron announced the grand jury would bring no charges against the two officers whose bullets ended the life of a Black woman minding her own business, in her home.