Coach Orgeron addresses George Floyd's death in Sports Illustrated interview
BATON ROUGE - Citizens across the nation have been mourning the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a police officer.
As residents take to their city streets and march in hopes of bringing awareness to issues related to police brutality and racial injustice, the demonstrations and the tragic events they represent hit close to home for many Louisianians.
According to The Advocate, LSU's head football coach, Ed Orgeron, realized that many of his team's players have been affected by the recent events and he said he invited them to speak with him about their feelings.
“My players and former players are hurting, and they let me know they’re hurting,” Orgeron said Tuesday in an interview with Sports Illustrated. “When they’re hurting, it hurts me. I love all my players like they were my own. I know some are hurting right now, and I totally support them. I will not tolerate racism, and they know it.”
As the award-winning coach who led LSU to last season’s CFP national championship, Orgeron is nationally recognized, but his comments to Sports Illustrated were his first publicly on Floyd’s death.
They come in the wake of other LSU-related sports figures making their own statements and as LSU also released a statement Sunday signed by school leaders, including athletic director Scott Woodward, recognizing “a racial divide that exists in our nation” and expressing support for those “who want a more just and humane society.”
According to the report, Orgeron met with players Tuesday for the first time since LSU had to suspend team activities in early March because of the broadening pandemic. Before he spoke, Orgeron gave the floor to LSU Police Lt. Reggie Berry, whose father, Hassell Berry Jr., was LSU’s first black police officer in 1968.
“I told them my feelings, which stays in house, but they know I will not tolerate racism,” Orgeron said. “Everybody has a right to voice their opinion. We’re not going to stop that. I told them to be careful.”
Orgeron said he has listened to players, former players and co-workers who are angry, frustrated and saddened by Floyd’s death May 25 in Minneapolis.
Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer named Derek Chauvin handcuffed him and then knelled on the back of his neck despite Floyd's repeated pleas that he couldn't breathe. The incident was captured on a video that went viral and sparked outrage.
Chauvin was fired and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers — two who were also pinning down Floyd and another who was standing by — were also fired but haven't been charged.
“I have seen the incident,” Orgeron said. “I think it’s terrible. I just want the players and former players to know I’m there to support them.”
LSU players joined other university athletes in returning to campus Monday to begin preparing for resumption of voluntary team activities June 8.
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