RICHMOND, VA – Richmond Spiders Head Coach, Chris Mooney, releases a very heartfelt, strong, statement today regarding the George Floyd tragedy in Minneapolis.
“Like so many of us around the country, I want to express my feelings about the tragic events in Minneapolis. I have spent the past few days saddened, demoralized, and angry. My heart breaks for George Floyd’s family and the families of many others who have endured racial injustice in this country.
I coach the best group of young men in the nation, many of whom are African-American. As I think of them and how to move forward, I recall a story of a former player, another exceptional African-American young man. I have asked his permission to share his story. In the spring if 2007, freshman David Gonzalvez quit our basketball team and was planning to drop out of school altogehter. He was disappointed with our season and he was struggling with his classes. He had stopped speaking to his mom who had always been his greatest source of strength and support. Like many young people, he was disillusioned and searching.
Late in April, David was driving outside of campus with a few friends after midnight. The police pulled them over for a routine traffic stop. According to David, the officers could easily have intensified their inquiry. But, the officers chose to diffuse the situation. They served David and his friends a traffic citation. They also counseled the young men on the decision-making and their futures.
When David returned to campus he immediately came to meet me. He had decided to make some changes. He wanted to build a relationship with God. He wanted to graduate from Richmond. He wanted to play ball and rejoin our team. He wanted to fulfill his mom’s dreams and serve as an example to younger players. He did all of these things passionately and wonderfully. He still plays professional basketball in Europe and is father to a beautiful 3 year old daughter, Gabriella. I often say a prayer of thanks for those officers who pulled him over that night. They made a choice to serve and protect – in a profound way. They helped to changed David’s life by choosing restraint over force, empathy over aggression.
All too often police officers make different decisions that lead to tragic and unacceptable outcomes. My heart breaks when I watch the video from Minneapolis. I am outraged and devastated by the violent and senseless death endured by George Floyd. My family and I stand with all African-Americans who are in pain today, angry and beyond frustrated, who fear that true change will never come. Police brutality must stop now, and particularly police brutality and abuse that are racially motivated must be rooted out and come to an end. We must all come together to condemn it. We must all come together to educate ourselves and serve as guardians to protect against bigotry. We must all work to do infinitely better. I commit to listen and learn about what I can personally do to help make things better.”
*featured image via SpiderAthletics*