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Shaquille O’Neal is opening up.
During his virtual visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live, the NBA legend opened up about the candid conversations he has with his children Taahriah, 23, Myles, 23, Shareef, 20, Amirah, 18, Shaqir, 17, and Me’arah, 14 about police brutality and how to interact with police officers.
“I have that talk with them all the time,” he said told host Jimmy Kimmel. “I tell them, first of all, you have to try to diffuse the situation by showing respect because you have to understand that these people are also out here doing their job. So, you gotta diffuse the situation. And if it happens to get rough, don’t do anything. Don’t say anything. Just comply.”
“And then, when it’s all said and done, you call me. And if stuff gets out of hand, then I will handle it,” O’Neal continued. “I will be the one to come out there and act crazy. I don’t want you to act crazy while you’re out there by yourself. So, I just try to tell them to just comply, to just listen.”
Acknowledging the recent death of George Floyd, who was killed at the hands of Minnesota police officers, the former Los Angeles Lakers player explained that, in his opinion, compliance doesn’t always guarantee safety.
“I try to be real with them and have, you know, certain conversations,” he explained. “But, you know, from the videos that I’ve seen with Mr. Floyd, he was compliant. I’ve seen three different videos. I saw one video, they had him on a wall. He wasn’t talking back. He wasn’t struggling. I saw another video of the car, you know, appears to be they were roughing him up. And then the last video, I see the officer with his knee on his neck. That’s not supposed to happen but I have those conversations all the time. But I also tell them that, you know, just show respect.”
O’Neal, who became a reserve police officer in South Florida back in 2015, also opened up his own experience when weighing in on the manner of Floyd’s death, calling for the arrests of the three police officers that were present when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground while kneeling on his neck. On May 29, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
“There’s an old saying that goes, ‘What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong.’ What happened to George Floyd was all the way wrong,” he said. “Absolutely wrong. Uncalled for. I’ve never seen that technique taught. A lot of police officers I’ve talked to would never do that. Everybody’s upset. Everybody’s tired. We demand justice. You know, they try to appease us by arresting one guy but there were four officers out there and I think people are just sick and tired.”
Inspired by the activism shown in people across the nation, O’Neal noted, “I’m 48 years old and I’ve seen, you know, outbreaks and riots before. This is the first time I think the country is doing it all at the same time. I’ve never seen it in more than one city.”
“They want equality. They want justice. And I understand. I do understand. I’m all for peaceful protesting,” he added. “I don’t like the opportunists that are riding around the neighborhoods leaving bricks trying to cause riots. I don’t like people breaking into stores. I don’t condone all that, but I am for peaceful protesting and I am for justice.”
“E! stands in solidarity with the black community against systemic racism and oppression experienced every day in America,” the network said in a statement on May 31. “We owe it to our black staff, talent, production partners and viewers to demand change and accountability. To be silent is to be complicit. #BlackLivesMatter.”
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