Raptors’ President Masai Ujiri Releases Statement in Support of #BlackLivesMatter

By Kamille Coppin

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It was a day to remember for millions of Canadians as for the first time ever, the Toronto Raptors walked away from the 2019 basketball season as league champions. For President Masai Ujiri, the moment was tainted when police officer Alan Strickland, stationed at the game, provoked an altercation with Ujiri while checking credentials.

The officer alleged that the court side scuffle was a forced abusive action instigated by Ujiri and filed a lawsuit. Ujiri who has worked for the league since 2013 denied the claims in a counter lawsuit, stating racially motivated bias. 

On August 18, 2020 video surveillance of the interaction between the two men was released, showing new evidence that deputy Strickland forcefully shoved Raptors president moments after the monumental win.

In a statement released by Ujiri on August 20, 2020, he expressed gratitude for received support and goes on to express his disappointment at the events that took place. 

“It was an exhilarating moment of achievement for our organization, for our players, for our city, for our country, and for me personally, given my long-tenured professional journey in the NBA. Yet, unfortunately, I was reminded in that moment that despite all of my hard work and success, there are some people, including those who are supposed to protect us, who will always and only see me as something that is unworthy of respectful engagement. And, there’s only one indisputable reason why that is the case – because I am Black.”

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to call for justice for disenfranchised black communities, Ujiri urges fans and supporters to use this event as an example and driving force to continue to call for the of the justice system. 

“What saddens me most about this ordeal is that the only reason why I am getting the justice I deserve in this moment is because of my success. Because I’m the President of a NBA team, I had access to resources that ensured I could demand and fight for my justice. So many of my brothers and sisters haven’t had, don’t have, and won’t have the same access to resources that assured my justice. And that’s why Black Lives Matter. 

And that’s why it’s important for all of us to keep demanding justice. Justice for George. Justice for Breonna. Justice for Elijah. Justice for far too many Black lives that mattered. And justice for Black people around the world, who need our voice and our compassion to save their lives.” 

To learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement visit their website. To donate to the Toronto Chapter of #BlackLivesMatter click here.