Lakers guard Lou Williams: ‘We just don’t want to see people slaughtered in the streets’

Lakers guard Lou Williams, seen after making a dunk last season, says, "I understand police have a hard job to do," but he's troubled by the use of "lethal force" over "childish crimes."
Lakers guard Lou Williams, seen after making a dunk last season, says, “I understand police have a hard job to do,” but he’s troubled by the use of “lethal force” over “childish crimes.”
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

As the Lakers ponder what kind of gesture they’ll make to protest social injustice, the issue remains on the mind of guard Lou Williams.

“I understand police have a hard job to do, but the reasoning that these murders are happening, or whatever they want to call it, it’s troubling,” Williams said after a Lakers training camp practice in Santa Barbara. “It’s selling CDs, or all of these things. A lot of these things that the police are called on scene for are kind of childish, in my opinion. For lethal force to be used, and for lethal force to be the first course of action, it’s kind of troubling. …

“For me it’s not about black people, it’s not about white people. It’s about getting killed and getting slaughtered in the street over childish crimes.”

This fall, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a movement in the NFL by first sitting, and then kneeling, during the national anthem to protest social injustice. His protest brought to sports a social issue that’s been part of a nationwide conversation. According to the New York Times, more than 100 cities had protests of police-related killings of black people this summer.


Williams has been vocal on social media on the subject. He isn’t sure which incident sparked his outrage.

“It’s happening every week, so now you can’t really pinpoint one,” Williams said. “There’s somebody new that’s a hashtag every week. It’s sad. It’s really ridiculous. … So many different people that’s lost their lives to things that we feel like can be prevented. They’ve got Tasers, they’ve got pepper spray, they’ve got mace. It’s five or six police officers on the scene, for whatever reason, the guns are the first things that come out. It’s sad.”

His AAU coach was a police officer, so Williams has had positive interactions with law enforcement. He’s also had negative experiences.

“I’ve been put in handcuffs over talking too loud with my friends leaving a party,” Williams said of an incident that happened in Las Vegas. “Put in handcuffs for talking the wrong way, pushed up against the car, and it takes for another officer to recognize who I am for the handcuffs to be taken off and for me to be treated like a human being. Without status, I don’t know how those interactions would go.”

Both the NBA and the Lakers organization have told players they’ll stand behind any action they feel compelled to take on the subject.

“I think we all have the same opinion when it comes to these issues,” Williams said. “We just don’t want to see people slaughtered in the streets when they call the police for help or vehicles are broke down, or somebody’s mentally ill, or somebody’s having a bad day, and they’re acting a little erratic. Even if they’re acting a little erratic, if you don’t pose a serious threat, I don’t think lethal force should be taken. That’s my opinion.”


Twitter: @taniaganguli