After an eventful weekend throughout Chicago, the Blackhawks released a statement Monday calling on themselves to work with citizens to confront the problems facing society.
“We need to educate ourselves, have more honest conversations and acknowledge that we have a lot of work to do, starting with our own organization,” the Hawks’ statement said.
“Chicago has been our home since 1926, and we need to work harder to build a more equitable Chicago for all our citizens.”
A statement from the Chicago Blackhawks. pic.twitter.com/1hEki2Yk3J— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) June 1, 2020
Protests from the Loop to the South Side drew thousands of activists — angered by last week’s death of George Floyd at the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer — together on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday’s initially peaceful protest escalated into a riot in the evening and morning hours, with police cars burned and more than a hundred stores looted. Similar patterns of looting spread throughout the rest of the city and suburbs Sunday, even while peaceful protests marched elsewhere, with the downtown area shut down by police.
“Our thoughts are with the family of George Floyd and the many others who have experienced similar devastating losses,” the Hawks said. “Our thoughts are also with the many hardworking people and small businesses who have suffered over the past several days.
“There is no tolerance for racism and inequity in our city and society.”
The Hawks’ statement came after the NHL released its own statement Sunday in support of protesters.
“The NHL stands with all those who are working to achieve a racially just society, and against all those who perpetuate and uphold racism, hatred, bigotry and violence,” the NHL’s statement read. “In our own sport, we will continue to do better and work diligently toward culture change.”
Captain Jonathan Toews posted an emotional statement Monday on Instagram, calling for “white people to open our eyes and our hearts.”
“A lot of people may claim these riots and acts of destruction are a terrible response,’’ Toews said. ‘‘I’ll be the first to admit that as a white male that was also my first reaction. But who am I to tell someone that their pain is not real?
“I’m not condoning or approving the looting, but are we really going to sit here and say that peaceful protesting is the only answer? If it was the answer, we would’ve given it our full attention long ago.
“Let’s choose to fight hate and fear with love and awareness.”
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A lot of people may claim these riots and acts of destruction are a terrible response. I’ll be the first to admit that as a white male that was also my first reaction. But who am I to tell someone that their pain is not real? Especially when it is at a boiling point and impossible to hold in anymore. It’s obviously coming from a place of truth. This reaction isn’t coming out of thin air. I’m not condoning or approving the looting, but are we really going to sit here and say that peaceful protesting is the only answer? There has been plenty of time for that, and if it was the answer we would’ve given it our full attention long ago. Listen to these two men debate. They are lost, they are in pain. They strived for a better future but as they get older they realize their efforts may be futile. They don’t know the answer of how to solve this problem for the next generation of black women and men. This breaks my heart. I can’t pretend for a second that I know what it feels like to walk in a black man’s shoes. However, seeing the video of George Floyd’s death and the violent reaction across the country moved me to tears. It has pushed me to think, how much pain are black people and other minorities really feeling? What have Native American people dealt with in both Canada and US? What is it really like to grow up in their world? Where am I ignorant about the privileges that I may have that others don’t? Compassion to me is at least trying to FEEL and UNDERSTAND what someone else is going through. For just a moment maybe I can try to see the world through their eyes. Covid has been rough but it has given us the opportunity to be much less preoccupied with our busy lives. We can no longer distract ourselves from the truth of what is going on. My message isn’t for black people and what they should do going forward. My message is to white people to open our eyes and our hearts. That’s the only choice we have, otherwise this will continue. Let’s choose to fight hate and fear with love and awareness. Ask not what can you do for me, but what can I do for you? Be the one to make the first move. In the end, love conquers all. #blacklivesmatter
Hawks forward Zack Smith also spoke out in a statement posted Monday on Twitter and Instagram.
Smith acknowledged that many hockey players often fear speaking out or sharing their opinions during interviews, but that the gravity of this situation requires different behavior.
“As a privileged white man playing in the NHL [a predominantly white league], I feel it’s as important now as ever to show support for the black community and encourage change,” Smith said. “If you think the current way black people and other minorities are treated here is OK, you are a racist.”