Israel Adesanya couldn’t stay silent.
The UFC middleweight champion may live halfway around the world in New Zealand but he was angered by the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., which has led to protests around the globe.
On Monday afternoon, Adesanya joined a group of approximately 4,000 people demanding justice for Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer held a knee down on his neck for several minutes as he begged for help while repeatedly saying he couldn’t breathe.
Officer Derek Chauvin was later arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter but the unrest surrounding Floyd’s death has led to protests springing up in cities all over the world including Auckland where Adesanya calls home.
“I have to speak up,” Adesanya said to the assembled crowd. “I’ve been doing it for like the last two weeks. For the last two weeks on my stories, you’ll see I’ve been angry. I’m pissed off.
“How many of you walk into a store and put your hands behind your back just so they don’t think you’re stealing? How many of you walk down the street and have to kind of smile and try to make the person who you can see is already scared of you, make them feel comfortable?”
Adesanya spoke about his own experiences with racism just recently and then turning his attention to what needed to be done moving forward.
“We’ve been marching so long but it’s not about us now,” Adesanya said. “Shout out to all the white people, people of different races, cause we need you. We need you to speak up. We need you to say something.
“I’m sick and tired of seeing those faces get killed cause guess what? I see myself in them the whole time. It’s heartbreaking. I’m pissed off.”
Protests are still ongoing across the globe with many cities in the United States issuing curfews as unrest continues to grow.