Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready is praising American professional athletes for staging a walk-out protest this week following the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Three officers were attempting to arrest Blake — a 29-year-old Black man — on Sunday afternoon. Video of the incident taken by a witness shows Blake open the driver's side door to his SUV when he is shot in the back at least seven times by one officer.
Blake's three young children were in the vehicle at the time of the shooting. Although Blake survived the encounter, he is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors are hopeful the paralysis is temporary.
On Wednesday night, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play in their NBA Playoff game versus the Orlando Magic in protest of what they say was an excessive use of force by the Kenosha officers.
The Magic refused to accept the Bucks' forfeit and joined the walk-out in solidarity. The rest of the NBA and WNBA soon followed suit, as did a number of athletes in other pro sports leagues.
On Thursday, Pearl Jam released the following statement from McCready:
"Thank you NBA, WNBA, MLB and MLS for using your platform to protest and stand for equality in this country.
"We have to be continuous allies because we are up against 400 years of systemic oppression written into the laws of this country — laws that made it impossible to protest, vote, send kids to better schools, access hospitals, choose where to live, and even around marketing alcohol. Systemic racism goes deep and is embedded in our laws.
"In the neighborhood where I grew up, they had sundown laws. A local real estate company used to write in the legal deeds of houses that the 'property shall not be resold, leased, rented, or occupied except to or by persons of the Aryan race...'
"This stuff existed all around us but many of us are still blind to the extent of it and its impact. Only now is America finally waking up. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.' I have to believe in the inherent value of protesting as part of the fabric of America. Everyone has to use the resources available to them to bring about equality."
Pearl Jam's Vitalogy Foundation recently announced a plan to help "advance social change, including access to voting". The band is promoting it with a new contest with a meet-and-greet as a grand prize.
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