While the NBA mulls over when basketball season can safely begin, Warriors coach Steve Kerr says he’s using his free time to learn about racial issues and on Tuesday, he put his words into actions.
Kerr on Tuesday joined students and parents in Oakland who are calling for the school district to eliminate its police force.
“The greatest coach in the NBA … the coach of the Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr,” said Pastor Mike in East Oakland.
For a man who is so used to hearing thousands of Warriors fans screaming at the top of their lungs, this introduction was different.
First, a healthy glob of anti-bacterial gel to sanitize the microphone. Second, this was no basketball court. It was a demonstration in the heart of East Oakland.
“This is a real reckoning for much of America, especially white America,” said Kerr as he spoke to the crowd.
He joined dozens of Oakland Unified School district parents and students who are calling for the district to dismantle its internal police force.
“We’re really pushing for a community driven process where parents, teachers, students come to the table and design a collective safety plan,” said Jessica Black, from the Black Organizing Project.
Activists with the Black Organizing Project say the death of George Floyd and the national discussion over racial inequality underscores the moral argument they have been making for nearly a decade.
“There’s been some calls for restorative justice counseling, there’s been calls for trauma induced services,” said Black.
The district – which is facing a multi-million dollar budget shortfall – currently employs 10 officers. On Wednesday, the district will take up a measure to dissolve the department and replace the force with non-uniformed “peacekeeping ambassadors.”
“You really have to listen to the community in terms of what’s happening and what’s best for the community,” said Kerr.
Activists say the district needs to spend money on hiring more counselors, librarians and teachers.
“That’s what the community is calling for and I’m all in support of that,” Kerr said.
The outspoken NBA coach is known for throwing a verbal jab or two at President Donald Trump. But when it comes to racial injustice, Kerr says it’s not enough to say Black Lives Matter.
“This to me, what it’s about. Because you got to learn, you have to understand what is happening out there,” he said. “If you care about something you got to add your own work, your own impact, that’s what I’m trying to do.”