The NBA has taken the lead of professional sports leagues regarding championing social justice.
From displaying Black Lives Matter on the courts to allowing players to wear phrases on the back of jerseys, the league’s been putting forth support that plenty of organizations haven’t. But that doesn’t mean the protests off the court have stopped, and that was evident in the bubble last night when protesters gathered around the Walt Disney World campus, close to the public entrance. However, it wasn’t about Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, or Jacob Blake– it was about another Black person harmed by the police.
Salaythis Melvin, a 22-year-old Black man, was shot in the back while at a mall in Orange County in August as he ran from Deputy James Montiel. Montiel was part of a plainclothes unit serving a warrant to someone else. However, investigators said Melvin was reaching for a gun in his waistband and turned toward Montiel, which prompted him to fatally shoot him.
“This was a terrible shooting. You can clearly see that [Melvin] is making forward progress … at a fast pace,” said Kalfani Turé, who’s currently an Assistant Professor Quinnipiac University and former Atlanta police officer. “If a person is fleeing you, there is no just cause for lethal force.”
The incident occurred just 15 miles from the Disney campus, which prompted the local protest. As people spoke through megaphones and held signs that read “Justice for Salaythis Melvin Now” and “Officers Are Not Judges + Executioners,” they blocked a bus that held NBA employees and media from entering the complex. One sign even called for LeBron James, Anthony Davis, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook to stand in solidarity with the protesters.
After a while, the protesters eventually allowed the busses to enter the compound.