In the days that followed the killing of George Floyd, Race Thompson didn’t know how to feel. There were moments of sadness and moments of inspiration. But even though the right words were hard to find, the Indiana forward knew what he had to do.
He had to hit the streets.
Thompson was among the thousands of protestors — and a number of IU basketball players — who marched earlier this summer to demand reforms after Floyd’s death in the custody of Minneapolis police on May 25. For Thompson, the ensuing uprising felt personal. He’s a proud Minnesotan, and the scene of Floyd’s killing was merely a short drive from his home. When he saw the footage that sparked nationwide protests, Thompson, too, felt compelled to act.
“Those marches and the protests, they were all very powerful movements,” Thompson said this week.
Thompson said he participated in two demonstrations, including one that was interrupted when a tanker truck barreled down Interstate 35 in Minneapolis toward a throng of protestors. It was important to Thompson that he was there, showing support and calling for change.
“I felt obligated that I needed to go down there and show support for these people because this is home for me,” Thompson said. “It hit home for me.”
Thompson wasn’t the only Hoosier basketball player to protest this summer. On June 2, Trayce Jackson-Davis and Joey Brunk tweeted photos showing them marching side-by-side through Indianapolis, their right hands raised in solidarity.
“Just knowing Joey and the guy he is, he wanted to come with me and see how it was,” Jackson-Davis said this week. “He said it was really powerful, and it really was super powerful. Just being in Indianapolis, your hometown, just marching and standing for something. (We were) showing unity, really. I thought it was really just a really, really great experience.”