Appearing on ESPN’s First Take on Friday morning, San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane called on white athletes to speak out on the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd’s death due to police brutality sparked riots in Minneapolis, which have spread to smaller demonstrations in other cities. Kane specifically called out Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby and NFL quarterback Tom Brady.
Kane retweeted the video on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, he publicly shared a petition which called for the city to charge the officers with murder.
Friday, the police officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter for the death of Floyd. Cell phone video showed Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, including three minutes after Floyd became non-responsive. Floyd pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.
The three other officers who were present but did not intervene were fired, as well.
Kane said it couldn’t fall only black athletes to speak out on injustice or police brutality against African Americans.
“We’ve been outraged for hundreds of years and nothing has changed. It’s time for guys like Tom Brady and Sidney Crosby and those types of figures to speak up about what is right, and clearly in this case, what is unbelievably wrong,” Kane said. “Because that’s the only way we’re going to actually create the unified anger to create the necessary change, especially when you talk about systemic racism.”
Kane, 28, has created conversations in the past over racism in hockey. Last summer, Kane responded to a social media commentator who told him to “stick to basketball.”
His response created a national conversation. Kane, however, acknowledged a greater challenge for hockey players to voice opinions on social issues.
“I think hockey, unfortunately, has a different culture than some of the other sports in terms of speaking out and using your voice and speaking your mind,” Kane said on Friday. “I think I’m one of the anomalies when it comes to NHL players doing that.”
“That’s another part of our problem, guys being really scared to speak their mind and stand up for what is right.”
Transcription provided by Sheng Peng of Fear the Fin.
Sidney Crosby has readily involved himself in humanitarian efforts and charities, including a recent donation of 100,000 meals to a local food bank. In April, he issued condolences to victims of a mass shooting in Nova Scotia. Crosby has shied away from controversial subjects, especially politics. During the height of the national debate over kneeling during the National Anthem, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Crosby visited the White House after their 2017 Stanley Cup championship, as other sports teams and athletes made news by boycotting the traditional visit.
“We need to continue to come together. We talk about it all the time, we talk about sports is where you bring people together,” Kane said as part of his show appearance. “It’s everybody. It’s an inclusive thing.”
San Jose Sharks owner Hasso Platter, who reportedly rarely addresses the media, released a statement in support of Kane’s comments on Friday.
“There is no room for racism in society. We applaud Evander for his thoughtful and rational response to the recent terrible tragedy,” the statement read. “Events like this occur way too often. We all must find a way to do better.”