Damian Lillard was the latest NBA star to join police brutality protests, marching with protesters in Portland Thursday night.
Protests have swept the country for more than a week now, sparked by the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis and inflamed by countless instances of continuing police violence in and around the protests.
The protests have become heavily linked with the NBA, both because Floyd was a close friend of retired player Stephen Jackson and because numerous active NBA players have spoken out on social media and joined protesters in person. Considering how many of these peaceful protests have quickly turned violent, it is no small risk for an NBA player, particularly an African-American one, to put themselves on the front lines. On Thursday evening, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers was the latest to show up.
Damian Lillard marched with protesters in Portland.
Lillard has previously been very active on issues of social justice. He spoke out on Twitter after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police officers and he was one of the NBA players to wear t-shirts before games saying “I can’t breathe” after the killing of Eric Garner by New York City police officers.
News reports said that 12 people were ultimately arrested at the Portland protests but that chaos broke out much later in the evening after Lillard had left.
Lillard and his Trail Blazers will be headed to Orlando soon for the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season. Although the Blazers were reportedly the only team to vote against approval for the league’s plan, it passed by a 29-1 vote. Portland is one of six teams not currently in playoff position who will join in eight regular-season games for each team as part of an opportunity to play their way into the postseason.