Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Larry Dean has written an open letter following the senseless murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and ensuing peaceful protests around the world.

To the Canadian Football League,

In light of recent events involving the murders of innocent, unarmed African-American citizens we are compelled to address several issues and causes for concern amongst our community. First, let’s say their names: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Secondly, we express our grief, deepest empathy and heartfelt condolences towards the families of these individuals, along with countless others, both known and unknown.

As tension is rising around the United States of America, we know that a gentle word can soften a battered heart. In doing so, we strive to direct the attention of those who are hurting to concentrate on constructive ways to express themselves in regards to dealing with our harsh realities. It is important for anyone who is in favour of justice, equality and not only civil rights, but HUMAN RIGHTS, to speak out in these times.

As our streets have become battlefields, the line has been drawn in the sand against racism, systemic oppression and the unjust MURDER of black men and women by law enforcement without consequence. It is imperative that each voice speak up so that all may know who is standing on that side of the line with us. We urge all those who wish to combat these nefarious attacks on humanity to take action by first embracing your right to be heard.

As a black man I have always strived to represent myself, my community and my people in a manner that will inspire generations to come. My foundation (The Larry Dean Foundation) is committed to investing in, protecting and serving the people who come from underprivileged, underappreciated and too often overlooked demographics. Our goal is to strengthen our community through education, recreation and philanthropy.

It is our desire to make visibly attainable a successful, productive and progressive future for our youth. We empower them by using tools that build confidence, work ethic, morals, ethics, and decision making. All the while not being confident, and far from certain, that the people we serve will be just as supported by those who have taken the oath to do just that: “Protect and Serve.”

The Canadian Football League has deservingly amassed a global platform. The reach of the league stretches further than our voices can travel. We, as members of the CFL, feel that we deserve to be spoken for. This is not an issue for the world to just sit back and “watch America deal with” as we know these matters exist in many places that our eyes cannot see. As a member of the CFL, which is comprised in majority by African American men, we feel that it is the duty of the league to speak up and represent us just as we suit up and represent the league.

With great pride we go out and put our health, bodies and minds on the line for the growth and benefit of the league. We demand that the league, with just as much pride, put themselves out on the line for the growth and benefit of us. In public display we sacrifice to not only generate millions of dollars in revenue, but attract a following for the league by entertaining crowds of fans, spectators and viewers by the millions.

We demand that the league, in a public manner, sacrifice for us and speak to that same audience, encouraging them to lock arms in our effort to relieve our people from the plight of living under these conditions of structural racism. We deem it deplorable that we have not been spoken for by representatives of the CFL and CFLPA. Silence speaks for those who oppose change. We believe that our league and its representatives are behind us. We want it do be documented.

It’s time to grow together. It’s time to recognize that the border does not separate us. It’s time to be our neighbour. It’s time to stand on common ground. It’s time to share the same air that we have used our last words to scream: “We Can’t Breathe.”

It’s time.

May God be with us all.

Larry Dean

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