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Tarik Black: 'As a people we have a right to fight for justice'

Tarik Black: 'As a people we have a right to fight for justice'
Tarik Black blocks the shot of Jazz forward Rodney Hood during a game last season. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

None of this is new to Lakers forward Tarik Black. It's just that now, with every phone doubling as a video camera, more people can see injustices he's long known existed.

"It's something that's really going on, it's something that's really happening," Black said. "It needs to be dealt with, especially with what this country stands for. You can't have a hypocritical country who, their whole thing is implementing equality. We're helping other countries do it. That's our whole thing. We're going afar and going abroad saying we need equality.

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"Then you come home and you look on our own soil. The people who we pay, tax money pays the police officers, firemen, things like that, so inevitably as the people, we are their employers. … We employ them, tax dollars pay their salaries. Something needs to be done."

Black and guard Lou Williams were among the more outspoken Lakers in discussing their feelings about police-related killings and social injustice. The Lakers are considering making some sort of statement to protest social injustice.

"Anything that happens has to be as a unit and we also want to show respect," Black said. "It's not a one-sided thing. We still respect this country, we still respect our police force. We want to make sure we're very conscious of what's going on and paying homage and respect to both sides."

For Black, the issue has gray areas. But he feels strongly that things need to change.

"As a people we have a right to fight for justice and speak up," Black said. "We are your employers. It doesn't make sense that you would be above the law that you're supposed to be enforcing."

As a child, Black was taught to respect police officers, and he still does. He knows several well, including his first basketball coach, of whom he has fond memories. What he wants is more accountability.

"By principle there should be a code of conduct they must abide by, and also if they don't, there [should be] consequences and they can't hide each other," Black said. "If you do an injustice as a police officer, I understand it's a brotherhood, you gotta stick together, but your job is to protect the people. So if you're harming the people, you can't [hide that]. Now that we have cameras, we can see what happened."

Twitter: @taniaganguli

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