A violent incident occurred in Wisconsin on Sunday night in which police officers shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back at close range as he tried to climb into his SUV. Less than two days later, the Detroit Lions are putting football on hold and are delivering a unified message. The team gathered outside the facility in protest of police brutality.
Photos surfaced on Tuesday that showed head coach Matt Patricia, the other coaches and the players standing outside with messages on a whiteboard. One said "The World Can't Go On" and the other said, "We Won't Be Silent." According to Detroit Lions beat writer Tim Twentyman, the players led the charge to cancel practice after a morning meeting. They said that football is not important right now and that they want to use their platform to promote social justice.
The #Lions have canceled practice today. Players and coaches came out addressing the media with a “The World Can’t Go On” and "We Won't Be Silent" signs. Players message: Football is not important today after what happened over the weekend to Jacob Blake.August 25, 2020
"The Detroit Lions organization is going to take a stand that what happened to Jacob Blake is not okay," safety Duron Harmon, per journalist Tori Petry. "[...]We are going to speak out on it until we create change." Offensive lineman Taylor Decker also spoke about the "fear and pain" that his loved ones are going through and said that "change needs to happen."
Authorities in Wisconsin are currently investigating the shooting and have placed the two officers on administrative leave while keeping their identities private. All of the details from the incident are unknown, but the attorney representing Blake's family said that the victim's three young boys were in the vehicle. Additionally, Blake's father, also named Jacob Blake, said that his son is paralyzed from the waist down for the time being.
The Green Bay Packers also weighed in following the shooting. The organization released a statement while both quarterback Aaron Rodgers and head coach Matt LaFleur spoke out to reporters. The members of the longtime NFL franchise called for government officials to take action to prevent future incidents.
"The Packers organization was shocked to see the video that showed police shooting Jacob Blake multiple times in the back," the statement read. "We are hopeful Jacob makes a full recovery, and our thoughts are with his family. While we understand a full investigation of this terrible incident will take place, we are deeply troubled at what again has become a painful example of the significant challenges we face with respect to police brutality, systemic racism and injustices against Black people. We continue to call for meaningful dialogue to affect the needed change we all desire."