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Jimmie Johnson: ‘I am for protesting, peaceful protesting’

Jimmie Johnson

FONTANA, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 28: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, speaks ahead of practice at Auto Club Speedway on February 28, 2020 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

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Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said he is for peaceful protesting and said “I hope there’s more of that tonight” after Sunday’s Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Some major U.S. cities remained under curfew orders as people across the county and the world protested the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin is charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death as Chauvin pinned Floyd’s neck to the ground with his knee.

Numerous athletes from across all sports have commented on Floyd’s death and the protests since, including NASCAR drivers Bubba Wallace, Daniel Suarez, Tyler Reddick and Ty Dillon, along with Serena Williams, LeBron James, Richard Sherman, and Lewis Hamilton, who stated on Instagram: “We are not born with racism and hate in our hearts, it is taught by those we look up to.”

Asked about the protests after Floyd’s death, Johnson said Sunday: “I’ve watched it all. The circumstances are just crazy and unacceptable. I am for protesting, peaceful protesting. I hope there’s more of that tonight. I know there are concerns, especially in the Charlotte area, near my home, that they will be protesting tonight.

“The message needs to be clear, but I think being peaceful is really the right way to send the message here. I hope everybody stays safe.”

Johnson spoke up in 2016 when there were protests in Charlotte, North Carolina after a police officer fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott. Johnson said at that time: “I’m a firm believer of gender equality, race equality, and I live my life that way and teach that to my children.’’

Said Clint Bowyer after Sunday’s race when asked about his reaction to Floyd’s death: “It’s very sad. Heart goes out to everybody involved. Just praying for everybody. It’s very sad to see every angle, every aspect, everything you’re seeing. Very, very sad.”

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