Montreal Alouettes running back James Wilder Jr. wants to create change in his home country, the United States of America.
That sentiment is shared by many people of colour after the senseless murder of George Floyd, which happened in Minneapolis on Monday, May 25.
“We are hated in this country. We’re not going to beat around the bush anymore. We’re tired. This goes on with every race. Look at the statistics and the percentages … it happens to us a lot more than everybody else. For no reason,” Wilder Jr. told Montreal Gazette reporter Herb Zurkowsky.
“You see other races doing the same things we’re doing — even worse — and nothing happens. You will never see an African-American yelling at an officer and nothing happens. That’s unheard of in 2020. Other races have that privilege.”
White police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes while he was handcuffed and restrained on the ground. The 46-year-old black man told Chauvin repeatedly: “I can’t breathe.” However, the pleas were ignored by Chauvin and it resulted in Floyd losing his life.
“A lot of things have happened recently, and when those things happen we usually protest. It can get violent and nasty. I wanted to get out there and keep it positive, try to keep it peaceful,” Wilder Jr. said.
According to Zurkowsky, Wilder Jr. has been in Houston training for the last month and felt it was incumbent to participate in two peaceful day-long protests where the Floyd family resides. Wilder Jr. said he put his “life on the line” against violent protestors, held Floyd’s aunt in his arms while she cried and crossed arms with a white man during the process.
“These are long days. You’re out in the heat; it’s hot in Texas. But this is bigger than me and football,” Wilder Jr. said. “I’m going to go positively, peacefully and stand for that I believe in. It just overwhelmed me. I was inspired.”
— James Wilder Jr (@IAm_Wilder32) June 1, 2020