Spurs coach Popovich calls for change, dismisses Trump as 'fool'

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says longterm lack of action in face of racism fuels violent reaction to George Floyd's death

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has called out President Donald Trump for a lack of leadership in the face of nationwide unrest set off by the killing of unarmed African American George Floyd last week.

Popovich, a longtime critic of Trump, spoke Sunday to weekly magazine "The Nation," saying unresolved issues of police violence and racism in America had set the stage for the violence that has raged in numerous cities and towns for three straight nights.

"The thing that strikes me is that we all see this police violence and racism and we’ve seen it all before but nothing changes," Popvich said.

"That's why these protests have been so explosive. But without leadership and an understanding of what the problem is, there will never be change. And white Americans have avoided reckoning with this problem forever because it’s been our privilege to be able to avoid it. That also has to change."

Popovich said that Trump was "not just divisive. He's a destroyer.

"I'm appalled that we have a leader who can't say 'Black Lives Matter,'" Popovich said. "In the end, what we have is a fool in place of a president, while the person who really runs the country, Senator Mitch McConnell, destroys the United States for generations to come."

Popovich was among numerous NBA head coaches and assistant coaches who signed a statement from the National Basketball Coaches Association saying they felt duty bound to speak out for those who don't feel they can.

"The events of the past few weeks -- police brutality, racial profiling and the weaponization of racism are shameful, inhumane and intolerable. As a diverse group of leaders, we have a responsibility to stand up and speak out for those who don’t have a voice -- and to stand up and speak out for those who don’t feel it is safe to do so," the statement said.

ESPN reported that the NBCA had established a committee of current and former coaches who will work with local leaders and law enforcement for change following Floyd's death, which came after a white Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck for several minutes.

An official autopsy report released Monday by the Hennepin County medical examiner in Minneapolis said that Floyd died in a homicide involving "neck compression."

That report came after a lawyer for Floyd's family said an independent autopsy found he died of asphyxiation from sustained pressure.

"In other words, he was murdered," tweeted Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who has along with Popovich has been tapped to serve on the committee along with Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce, former New York Knicks coach David Fizdale and former coach Steve Van Gundy, according to ESPN.

"We are committed to working in our NBA cities with local leaders, officials and law enforcement agencies to create positive change in our communities," the coaches' statement said. "We have the power and platform to affect change, and we will use it."

  • Manchester City's European ban quashed on appeal
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    Reuters

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  • Chinese rivers and lakes swell perilously as summer flood season crests
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  • Hong Kong national security law: head of Anglican Church in city says new legislation won’t undermine religious freedom
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    South China Morning Post

    Hong Kong national security law: head of Anglican Church in city says new legislation won’t undermine religious freedom

    The head of the Anglican Church in Hong Kong has expressed his support for the new national security law, and said the legislation would not undermine any freedom or religious organisations in the city.In a 900-word letter sent to British Christian newspaper Church Times, Archbishop Paul Kwong also criticised foreign governments for sanctioning Hong Kong, or offering passports to those fearing persecution if they remain.“These actions hurt Hong Kong and support those who have supported or committed acts of violence in protests last year. Such actions are not expressions of Christian charity but of anti-China sentiment,” he wrote.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.Kwong has been a local delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top advisory body, since 2013.In a rare interview with the Post in 2016, he said his role on the CPPCC did not affect his views.Hong Kong has a Catholic congregation of about 400,000, and a Protestant congregation of about 500,000. The Anglican Church, known locally as the Sheng Kung Hui, has about 40,000 followers and is one of the most influential denominations.Last month, China’s top legislative body imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, prohibiting acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security.Hong Kong national security law official English versionBeijing officials said the legislation was necessary after anti-government protests swept through Hong Kong last year.But legal experts and human rights activists said the law could undermine the people’s rights and freedoms, and threaten the existence of foreign businesses and NGOs in the city.Citing the social unrest, Kwong said: “I welcome this law, although it is one that I wish was not necessary … What I hope the new law will do is diminish the agitation against the government that last year brought things to a standstill, and to restore law and order.“It does not undermine any freedom of Hong Kong, in particular the freedom of religion. It does not affect the Church or any other religious organisation.”Kwong said since Macau, which was returned from Portuguese to Chinese rule in 1999, enacted its own national security law, it “has not experienced any curtailment of religious freedom”.The archbishop said while some members of Hong Kong churches were against the legislation, “most religious leaders have not taken a position of opposition to the national security law”.He added: “I know that our position about this law contradicts that of many in the west, but we believe this is what is best for us, and we ask countries overseas not to interfere in our affairs.”Kwong accused Western media and politicians for having a biased narrative on Beijing.“China is consistently portrayed as evil, trying to destroy everything that is Hong Kong whereas the British or American government is praised as the benevolent protector and saviour of Hong Kong,” he said.“In fact, China has been helping and supporting Hong Kong and our people all these years. We are part of China. We benefit in everything – from our trading status, to our supply of food and utilities, to our special and preferential place within the broader Chinese polity.”Rebel City: Hong Kong’s Year of Water and Fire is a new book of essays that chronicles the political confrontation that has gripped the city since June 2019. Edited by the South China Morning Post's Zuraidah Ibrahim and Jeffie Lam, the book draws on work from the Post's newsrooms across Hong Kong, Beijing, Washington and Singapore, with unmatched insights into all sides of the conflict. Buy directly from SCMP today and get a 15% discount (regular price HKD$198). It is available at major bookshops worldwide or online through Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, and eBooks.com.More from South China Morning Post: * Reverend Paul Kwong: Hong Kong independence movement is ‘destructive’ and ‘polarising’ * Why Hong Kong independence movement is dead in the waterThis article Hong Kong national security law: head of Anglican Church in city says new legislation won’t undermine religious freedom first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.

  • US military South China Sea moves are ‘futile and its allies risk harm’: Chinese colonel
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    South China Morning Post

    US military South China Sea moves are ‘futile and its allies risk harm’: Chinese colonel

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  • Kenya wildlife reserves threatened as tourists stay away
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  • Dozens of U.S. universities support challenge to Trump's order on foreign students - court document
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    Reuters

    Dozens of U.S. universities support challenge to Trump's order on foreign students - court document

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  • Chinese super regulator calls for crackdown on ‘cancer’ of fraud in capital markets
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    South China Morning Post

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  • What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
    Health
    Reuters

    What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

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