Matt LaFleur couldn’t keep the frustration from showing on his face during Monday’s Zoom call with Green Bay Packers media. Not because of anything happening on the practice field, but for reasons “bigger than football.”
The Packers’ second-year head coach had just come from a post-practice meeting in which he and his player leadership council discussed Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot by a police officer and left seriously wounded on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Like many others, LaFleur had seen the graphic video of Blake being shot at least seven times at the point-blank range and said the “disgusting” incident left him at a loss for words.
#Packers Matt LaFleur said he met with their leadership council after practice. Wanted to get his players' perspectives.
"Thinking about Jacob Blake. It's amazing to me that this is still happening. Things have to change… we can't stand for this any longer."
— Lily Zhao (@LilySZhao) August 24, 2020
“This is a very serious event that happened in our own backyard in Kenosha last night,” LaFleur told reporters Monday, visibly emotional. “Thinking about Jacob Blake. It’s amazing to me that this is still happening, so I wanted to get our guys’ perspectives and try to float around some ideas on how we can make a difference and use our platform. Cause things have to change, and the social injustice, the police brutality, the antiquated laws … (we’ve) just gotta bring awareness to everybody that black lives matter and we can’t stand for this any longer.”
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Packers Issue Statement About Kenosha Shooting
The viral footage of Blake’s shooting sparked unrest across the Wisconsin city overnight with protests and riots forcing Kenosha to implement an emergency curfew on Monday evening, a scene not unlike the one that erupted from George Floyd’s killing in police custody earlier this year. The latter set off months of protests and demonstrations against racial discrimination and police brutality around the nation.
While an investigation in Kenosha is imminent and the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, many around the nation — including the Packers organization — are determined to make sure the calls for change are heard just as clearly as the cries for justice.
Here’s what the Packers shared in a written statement released Monday night:
The Packers organization was shocked to see the video that showed police shooting Jacob Blake multiple times in the back. We are hopeful Jacob makes a full recovery, and our thoughts are with his family.
While we understand a full investigation of this terrible incident will take place, we are deeply troubled at what again has become a painful example of the significant challenges we face with respect to police brutality, systemic racism and injustices against Black people. We continue to call for meaningful dialogue to affect the needed change we all desire.”
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 24, 2020
LaFleur, Packers Want to Help Bring About Change
LaFleur and the Packers weren’t just sitting around feeling bad about what happened to Blake on Monday afternoon. They were talking, as team leaders, about how they could use their platform and status as a major sports franchise to bring about change to their community.
“We’re just floating ideas of how do we help bring solutions to these problems, and a lot of us, it’s out of our wheelhouse,” LaFleur said. “I know for myself, I don’t have the right answers right now. I think awareness is great. I think awareness is at an all-time high right now, but it’s … how do you hold people accountable and (do you) ensure that these types of events don’t take place? It’s just mind-blowing to me.”
The Packers have been outspoken over the past several months since Floyd was killed in the custody of Minneapolis police. Some of the team’s most recognizable players put together a video with a unified message calling for change to systemic racism and police brutality across the United State. Even Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy has made some charitable donations to social justice groups.