Teenage tennis phenomenon Coco Gauff has released a video protesting killings of African-Americans in the United States, joining a chorus of outrage across the country following the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis.
- Unarmed African-American man George Floyd died after being pinned by a policeman with a knee to his neck
- Floyd’s death in Minneapolis has resulted in mass protests, some violent, in cities across America
- The officer involved, Derek Chauvin, was fired and has now been arrested and charged with Floyd’s murder
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged on Friday with murder in the death of 46-year-old George Floyd after mobile phone footage of the white officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck prompted a wave of protests.
African-American Gauff, 16, said on Twitter this week she would “always use my platform to help make the world a better place,” and on Friday called for action from others in a TikTok video posted to her Twitter account.
“This is why I am using my voice to fight against racism,” the caption read, as the video cuts to images of Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man whose shooting in Brunswick, Georgia, was also captured on video.
Three white men were charged in his death earlier this month.
Gauff’s video also includes a photo of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager whose killing helped spark the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
The words, “Am I next?” appeared on screen, as Gauff, wearing a black hoodie, faces the camera and raises her hands.
Gauff joined numerous athletes, including LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick, Odell Beckham Jr and a host of others who have spoken out following Mr Floyd’s death.
Gauff seized the tennis spotlight at last year’s Wimbledon, where she defeated her idol Venus Williams in the first round and made it through to the fourth.
She backed up that performance with strong showings at the 2019 US Open and 2020 Australian Open, ultimately breaking into tennis’ top 50 at the age of 15.
Future NFL stars call for action
The protest continued to spread across sports, with the NFL’s number one draft pick for 2020, Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals, also calling on the public to respond in the wake of the death of Mr Floyd.
“The black community needs our help. They have been unheard for far too long. Open your ears, listen, and speak.
“This isn’t politics. This is human rights,” said Burrow, who was raised in Athens, Ohio.
Other prominent athletes have continued the call for players who aren’t minorities to speak out against police violence and racial injustice as Burrow, who hasn’t played a game as a professional, did on Friday.
“It’s time for guys like Tom Brady and Sidney Crosby and those type of figures to speak up about what is right and what, in this case, is unbelievably wrong,” forward Evander Kane, who plays for the San Jose Sharks in ice hockey’s NHL, said.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is among the favourites to win the 2020 Heisman Trophy and be the number one pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, also spoke out.
“There has to be a shift in the way of thinking,” Lawrence said via Twitter. “Rational must outweigh irrational. Justice must outweigh injustice. Love must outweigh hate.
One of the NFL’s four minority head coaches, Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, said voices need to be constant to create change.
“Many people who broadcast their opinions on kneeling (during the national anthem) or on the hiring of minorities don’t seem to have an opinion on the recent murders of these young black men and women,” Flores said in a statement.
“Broadcasting that opinion clearly is not important enough.
“I lead a group of young men who have the potential to make a real impact in this world. My message to them and anyone else who wants to listen is that honesty, transparency and empathy go a long way in bringing people together and making change.
“I hope that the tragedies of the last few weeks will open our hearts and minds to a better way of communicating and hopefully create that change.”