New York Mets player Dominic Smith was in tears while speaking about his decision to kneel during the national anthem on a day of protests following the shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake.
On Wednesday, players from across the sports world — including the NBA, WNBA, MLB, and MLS — chose to sit out of their scheduled games in protest of police brutality. Players from the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks kicked the boycotts off when they remained inside their locker room for the fifth game of their playoff series against the Orlando Magic.
Smith, a 25-year-old first baseman on the Mets, kneeled during "The Star-Spangled Banner" before his game against the Miami Marlins on Wednesday, the first time he has done so this season. He told reporters he wanted to show his support with the other athletes who had taken a stand following Blake being shot seven times by a police officer on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
"I felt like tonight was the perfect night, especially with other teams canceling their games, especially looking at the NBA," Smith said, according to SNY. "I just wanted to make a stand like that and show my support."
"I've been very emotional," he continued." Just to kind of see this continuously happen, I mean, it was a long day for me. Kind of wasn't there mentally."
Blake's family said he has been paralyzed from the waist down due to the shooting.
"I think the most difficult part is to see people still don't care"— SNY (@SNYtv) August 27, 2020
- An emotional Dom Smith describes the most of difficult part of the last few months for him pic.twitter.com/DLyptwKPUp
The shooting of Blake has prompted protests in Kenosha, and two people were killed on Tuesday when a gunman opened fire on demonstrators. Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, was arrested on Wednesday and charged in the shootings.
''I think the most difficult part is to see people still don't care," Smith told reporters through tears. "For this to just continuously happen, it just shows the hate in people's heart. That just sucks, you know? Black men in America, it's not easy. Like I said, I just wasn't there today, but I'll bounce back, I'll be fine.''
Smith did not tell the club about his plans to kneel, according to the Associated Press via ESPN.
Teammate Michael Conforto credited Smith with helping him "listen and understand" to social justice issues, which have continued to be a source of political contention since George Floyd's death in May. Despite this, Conforto said he would not kneel during the anthem.
"It's the same as his decision to kneel," Conforto told the AP. "Everybody has their decision. It's what I've always done. I think it's as simple as that. I don't look at Dom any differently because he kneels. I think it's as simple as that."
Smith said he is indifferent to whether or not his teammates kneel beside him.
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"It's not for them," he told reporters.
Instead, Smith asked for the focus to be placed on children growing up in low social-economic areas.
"If you can give your time, that's the thing that matters," he said. "That's why I feel so emotional about it, because people give their money, they leave. Can't do that. You have to be there for the children that are coming up after."