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Independence silence on Floyd uprising 'speaks to the culture'
USL team's players, supporters speak out
 
Published Monday, June 1, 2020 4:13 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

FILE PHOTO
Charlotte Independence goalkeeper Brandon Miller criticized the USL franchise's lack of response to national unrest sparked by the police-involved death of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Protests spread to several North Carolina cities, including Charlotte.

Charlotte Independence players expect more from their club.


The USL Championship side initially said it would not make a statement in response to unrest related to the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but noted they will support the stance taken by their players. Following an interview with club president Jim McPhilliamy on June 1, the club decided to release a statement.


In comparison, the USL Championship published a piece by Independence defender Hugh Roberts with an accompanying tweet of “Speak up. Say it louder. Black. Lives. Matter.”
Players see the initial refusal to make a statement as a reflection of the club’s culture.


“Their actions are showing that they’re OK with not saying anything, and they’re OK with players being upset,” Roberts said. “This just speaks to the culture. If they want players to come in next year and the years after, we all speak behind closed doors and we’re all going to talk about these things. They’re always talking about how they’re so involved with the community, but there’s literally protesting going on in the backyard and it still hasn’t been mentioned.”


Said Independence goalkeeper Brandon Miller: “It’s disappointing because it’s not a political issue. This is a human issue. To stay silent at a time like this, it hurts because you have players on the team who are greatly affected by this, myself being one of them. It’s hard to know that a club, not just the Independence, but clubs around the league and other sports aren’t willing to show their support. Even if it’s not action, showing some type of support for the players on that team, because when you look at a lot of these leagues, they’re made up of players who look like the people who are being affected greatly by this. I would hope that teams would support their players and support communities that they in turn hope would support them on the field. It’s hard to call yourself a community club when you see that your community is hurting and you sit silent.”


Dan DiMicco, the retired CEO of Charlotte-based Nucor and the Independence’s largest investor, blamed social unrest across the country on anti-fascists on social media platforms like Twitter. Charlotte is among the North Carolina cities where mostly peaceful protests have been held, with some instances of vandalism and looting reported.


“The One Thing Riots Across the U.S. Have In Common – and It's Not Black Lives Matter—As time goes on,1 thing is becoming more clear:the violence & riots that r taking place r being carried out by white members of #Antifa,” DiMicco, a former trade advisor on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, tweeted on May 31 .

Jack’s Militia, the Independence supporters’ group, posted a statement today condemning DiMicco’s comments.

“Jack’s Militia stands fully behind the peaceful protests against the abhorrent continuation of centuries of lethal brutality by those entrusted to protect and serve all Americans. We do not share the values that Dan DiMicco, majority owner of the team we love, chooses to express via social media. More violence and brutality is not the answer. Wild conspiracy theories and demonization of the free press as a distraction from the real problems facing the nation is not the answer. Black lives matter. Enough is enough.”

Said Roberts: “Fans are starting to pay attention to the things [DiMicco] is favoriting and liking. The fact that [the rest of the organization] is turning a blind eye to it yells volumes to players because we see these things, too. The fact that they’re not even saying that what he’s saying is separate from the beliefs of the team or the community is not right. It’s something that needs to change and needs to be addressed.”

The club’s silence concerns its players.

“You see Jack’s Militia putting out a statement first,” Roberts said. “You see other players being vocal, but the fact that the Independence really hasn’t even come forth at all, even with a simple statement, it concerns us as players.”

However, the club’s lack of action won’t stop players from taking a stand.

“We’ve been talking about coming up with videos amongst ourselves, but it’s not just us doing this—we need support from our club,” Roberts said.

While McPhilliamy said he is more than happy to support the players, he feels releasing a statement would do nothing more than check a public relations box.

“I think a lot of people are putting statements out on social media to make themselves feel good, not really to do anything,” he said prior to deciding to release a statement. “I took this to Brandon and Hugh and some of the other players on the team. I have not walked in their shoes, but I’m happy to walk next to them in support. I think they’re going to craft a statement, and the team will be supportive of that. I’ve gotten all kinds of people saying, ‘hey, you need to put out a statement.’ I just didn’t want to check a box. I don’t want to do it to serve my own purposes. It seems sort of grotesque in a way with everything that’s going on.”

Yet words of support only go so far.

“That’s the thing we talked about amongst ourselves,” Roberts said. “He’s saying he wants to support us and go out there. I feel like that’s more of a propaganda, social media clap kind of thing. Of course he’ll show that he’s supporting us, but it’s more so him hiding behind us.”

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