Celtics forward Jaylen Brown was ready to leave his media availability Sunday evening before he sat back down in his chair and announced he had something else to say.
“Before I go,” Brown said, “I just want to speak on Breonna Taylor.”
From inside a hotel ballroom that has been converted to a practice court for NBA teams, Brown delivered a thoughtful message on the death of Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman who was killed inside her apartment after Louisville police officers utilized a no-knock search warrant and fired more than 20 shots at her and her boyfriend.
One of the three officers involved in the shooting has been fired. Louisville, as Brown noted, has since banned no-knock search warrants.
“The problem is not just with the officers, but it’s with what they’ve been told to do,” Brown said. “We understand what the protocol is, but I feel like the protocols need to change and things need to improve. We see improvements being made, but I feel like continuing to have people speak on these things and continuing to have them talk about them is going to be important.”
Later Friday, following his media availability, Brown wrote on Twitter that Louisville’s entire police department, in addition to the officers involved with Taylor’s killing, should be “held responsible.”
“[Kentucky’s Attorney General] Daniel Cameron has the authority to arrest all participating officers,” Brown tweeted.
With the NBA resuming its season in Walt Disney World, Brown has made an effort to keep social justice issues at the forefront. He said he has been “conducting research” in his downtime, as well as connecting with other players who are also interested in continuing the conversation about racial equality.
“For us, equality is demanded,” Brown said. “Black lives matter. Breonna Taylor is an example of a Black life who was taken because of how the system has been laid out. We’re going to continue to protest.”
As part of an effort to support its players, the NBA has approved a number of messages that can be worn on the back of jerseys in place of last names. Examples include: Black Lives Matter, I Can’t Breathe, Equality, Freedom, and Say Their Names.
Brown was among several players to voice disappointment with the league’s list. He was initially hopeful additional options would be considered — Results, Inequality by Design, and Break the Cycle were a few of his suggestions — but that won’t be the case.
His plans have yet to be finalized, though Brown said he liked Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler’s decision to leave the space entirely blank.
“It’s kind of tough to epitomize all the feelings and emotions and everything that you’re passionate about into one word,” Brown said. “Being able to have an empty space and playing for some of those people that we don’t know their names — and we may not ever know their names — I think that’s powerful, too.”
Jaylen Brown, at the end of his media avail: "Before I go, I just want to speak on Breonna Taylor." Here is his message: pic.twitter.com/51se5Qvzx2
— Nicole Yang (@nicolecyang) July 19, 2020