Back in 2014, when Jaylen Brown was still in high school at Wheeler High in Marietta—about 20 minutes outside of Atlanta—he posted a tweet about something a teacher told him:
“My teacher said she will look me up in the Cobb County jail in 5 years … Wow”
Brown, of course, has gone on to become a star for the Celtics. Still, this weekend, Brown was very much prepared to go to jail if necessary, though in neighboring Fulton County and probably not for the reasons his teacher intended in that inappropriate exchange from six years ago. Brown was in Atlanta on Saturday night, leading a protest against police violence in the United States.
He said he drove 15 hours from his home near Boston to walk with protestors.
Similar protests raged across the country this weekend following last week’s death of George Floyd, which came after a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck during an arrest as Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe.” Police reportedly were summoned to the scene for a “forgery in progress” and the incident was caught on a cellphone camera alongside a busy street.
Brown Carried ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Sign
Brown streamed part of the march on his Instagram account. He carried a sign reading, “I CAN’T BREATHE,” and holding a bullhorn, helping to lead chants of, “No justice, no peace.”
In the video, he talked about why he felt it was necessary to be back in his hometown at this moment:
I drove 15 hours to get to Georgia, my community. This is a peaceful protest. Being a celebrity, being an NBA player don’t exclude me from no conversation at all. First and foremost, I’m a Black man and I’m a member of this community, and I grew up on this soil. I want to say that first and foremost. It’s a peaceful protest. We’re walking. And that’s it. We’re raising awareness for some of the injustices that we’ve been seeing. It’s not OK. As a young person, you’ve got to listen to our perspective. Our voices need to be heard. I’m 23 years old. I don’t know all the answers. But I feel how everyone is feeling, for sure. No question.
Jaylen Brown Continues to Speak Out
Brown had publicized his plans earlier on Saturday, saying he would march from CNN headquarters, which had been vandalized the previous night, to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in the city, a walk of about a mile-and-a-half.
He had condemned acts of police violent the previous night, tweeting, “Police brutality is an act of terrorism.”
On Sunday, after the march, Brown continued to speak out about protesting police brutality.
“I chose to do a peaceful protest that was my choice you do not get to choose for the rest of America,” he wrote on Twitter.
He also wrote, about the violence that has followed Floyd’s death, “Do not confuse the response of the oppressed with the violence of the oppressor.”
Brown, in his fourth season with the Celtics, does have a pinned tweet at the top of his account that might be useful to remember at what is obviously a low point in the country:
READ MORE: Former NBA Champion: George Floyd’s Death ‘Destroyed Me’