As sports league fight to become more progressive, Formula One racing is sadly taking a step back.
Two weeks ago at the Tuscan Grand Prix, world champion Lewis Hamilton wore a black t-shirt, with the words “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” on the front and a photograph of her on the back accompanied by the phrase “Say her name.”
Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was shot and killed on March 13 when police entered her Louisville home on a no-knock warrant. Gunfire was exchanged between officers and Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who said he believed that the officers were intruders. Taylor died after being shot eight times. And more recently, a grand jury didn’t charge any officers with killing Taylor in her apartment but instead indicted a former detective on three counts of “wanton endangerment,” which set off another round of protests nationwide.
Hamilton wanted to draw more attention to the countless forms of injustice in the case by wearing the shirt. Still, now Formula one is making sure no one does something similar ever again by setting new pre and post-race rules for driver attire. The sport’s “End Racism” shirts are fine to wear, and so are other statements, so long that they’re “in accordance with the fundamental principles” of the FIA.
However, racers will be able to continue kneeling or bowing their head during the National Anthem. Hamilton commented on the FIA’s updated rules, and while he understands why they were amended, he knows that his mission is much larger.
“People do talk about sport not being a place for politics. Ultimately it’s human rights issues and in my opinion that is something we should be pushing towards,” he said. “Lots of rules have been written for me over the years and that hasn’t stopped me.”