Trail Blazers

CJ McCollum calls for systemic change after Derek Chauvin verdict

Trail Blazers
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Guilty on all counts.

Those are the words that echoed through the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday after Derek Chauvin was found guilty on 3 counts: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the death of George Floyd. The jury took 10 and a half hours to deliberate before a verdict was made. 

People and organizations across the country shared their statements shortly after the news was made public, including many sports figures. Following the Blazers 113-112 loss to the Clippers on Tuesday night, CJ McCollum addressed the Chauvin verdict and the small gesture of justice.

But the Trail Blazers guard knows the conviction won’t bring Floyd back or end the heartbreak felt by members of his family 10 months after he died under Chauvin’s knee and sparked a worldwide protest movement. 

“As a Black man, it was hard for me to watch the videos, hard for me to kind of watch the trial,” McCollum said. “Seeing stuff like that just isn’t good for my psyche at this stage in my life, but happy the family was able to get its proper due, obviously with the guilty verdict, but his life is still not here, he’s still not coming back.”

 

McCollum went on to note the role that the body-camera footage played in Tuesday’s verdict and why he believes there’s a long way to go in holding police accountable to ensure equal enforcement under the law.

“Obviously with the body cam and things of that nature, someone tweeted basically, we watched it in 4K, and it felt like a 16 seed beating a 1 seed in order for them to be a guilty verdict,” McCollum explained. “I just don’t think it should be like that at this point in our lives, especially in America. I think going forward there’s probably thousands of cases in similar situations in which there is no body cam, there is no footage and it’s just a he-say, she-say situation where more often times than not, the cops get off...

But I think there’s a lot of change that needs to be done in terms of law enforcement.

- CJ McCollum

He also pushed for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a bill named in Floyd’s honor which seeks to strengthen police accountability and prevent officers from moving from one department to another through a national registry.

“I think the George Floyd Bill should be passed,” McCollum said. “We’re taking steps in the right direction, but we have a long, long ways to go as a society, especially when it comes to law enforcement and how the Black and Brown people have been treated."

McCollum remains committed to working to end systemic racism and injustice through his work as vice president for the NBAPA’s Executive Committee.  

“Just trying to spread the right messages, making sure everybody has the facts and figuring out what was going to happen in the event that it wasn’t a guilty verdict,” McCollum said.

The NBA and NBAPA released a joint statement Tuesday calling Floyd’s murder a “flash point for how we look at race and justice in our country.” Like McCollum, the league and its players recognize there is much work to be done.