By George Ramsay, CNN
(CNN) — Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson says he is “staggered” by events in the U.S. in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd.
Rather than talk about the NFL with reporters Wednesday, Wilson insisted on speaking about racism in America and how Colin Kaepernick was “trying to do the right thing” through his protests.
Floyd died in Minneapolis on May 25 after being arrested by a police officer, who had pinned him to the ground by kneeling on his neck for several minutes.
Police were called after a store owner believed Floyd had used a counterfeit bill to pay.
The incident has sparked protests across the U.S. and around the world. All four former police officers involved in Floyd’s killing have been charged.
“The reality is that, me as a black person, people are getting murdered on the street, people are getting shot down, and the understanding that it’s not like that for every other race,” Wilson, who led the Seattle Seahawks to victory in Super Bowl XLVIII, told reporters.
“It’s like that in particular for the black community. I think about my stepson, I think about my daughter, I think about our new baby boy on the way. It’s staggering to watch these things happen right in front of our faces.
“So, I have a heavy heart right now. I don’t have all the right answers or anything.”
Wilson revealed an incident when he faced prejudice while in a restaurant in California after winning the Super Bowl in 2014.
“I was at a place to get breakfast,” said Wilson. “I was in line and everything and an older white gentleman told me, ‘That’s not for you.’
“And I said, ‘Huh? Excuse me?’ I thought he was joking at first. My back was kind of turned. I had just come off a Super Bowl and everything else, so if somebody is talking to me that way, you think about [a different] circumstance and how people talk to you.
“In that moment, I really went back to being young and not putting my hands in my pocket and that experience. That was a heavy moment for me right there. I was like, man, this is really still real, and I’m on the West Coast. This is really real right now.”
Wilson also spoke of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who began protesting against police brutality in 2016, by taking a knee during the national anthem before NFL games. Kaepernick has been unsigned by a team since 2017.
“The reality is that Colin was trying to symbolize the oppression that was going on in America and that has been going on for 400 years,” said Wilson.
“The reality is what Colin was trying to do was he was trying to do the right thing, trying to stand up figuratively, for what has been going on for America … The reality is that we all need to help, we all need to find our own ways of how we’re going to love and how we’re going to make a difference.
“And everybody may do it differently. I don’t know what everybody is going to do and how they’re going to do it, but it’s calling for people to understand what’s really going on.”
Memorial services in Floyd’s honor will be held in Minnesota, Texas and North Carolina over the next five days, with the Minneapolis service held Thursday.
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