Nearly five years later, former tennis star James Blake says he never suspected the large man running toward him was a plainclothes New York police officer.
Blake was in town that day for the U.S. Open and standing outside a Manhattan hotel.
“I thought someone was running at me that was a fan, someone that was going to say, `Hey I saw you play so and so, I was at this match, my kid plays tennis,’“ Blake recalled. “I’m smiling with my hands down.”
But Blake, who is black, had been mistakenly identified as a suspect in a credit card fraud scheme. Video showed the undercover officer grabbing him by the arm, throwing him to the sidewalk face down and handcuffing him.
All of which intensified Blake’s reaction to video of George Floyd’s death shortly after being detained by Minneapolis police last week.
“I went to bed very sad and very deflated, seeing this over and over again,” Blake said Tuesday from his home in San Diego. “I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t stop my mind from racing, thinking about the events that took place there, the events that took place with me in 2015. …
“It saddens me to see that kind of policing is still going on, that kind of brutality, particularly how often it is aimed at the black and brown community.”
Blake, a Harvard alum who reached a career-high ranking of No. 4 and is now tournament director of the Miami Open, said the 2015 episode transformed him into an “accidental activist.” He began using his celebrity to speak more openly about racism and police brutality.
Voting is one way forward, he said, including in local elections. He supports peaceful protest, and said it’s possible no arrest in the Floyd case would have been made without the recent demonstrations in Minneapolis and elsewhere.
He also favours police reform, including higher pay, better training and independent bodies to investigate wrongdoing by officers. As punishment in the Blake case, the policeman who tackled him was docked five vacation days.
“I don’t think someone like that should have a badge,” Blake said.
He said the scars from his experience probably can’t be erased, and he thinks about it often.
“I would love to change this, but for the rest of my life, I’m probably going to be more nervous about any encounter I have with a police officer,” he said.
Blake said Floyd’s death underscored how lucky he was to walk away from his own ordeal. He’s grateful no one was with him at the time, including his daughters, now 6 and 7.
“I haven’t shown them the video of me getting taken down, because I don’t know if they would understand it quite yet,” Blake said. “With what has been on the news the past week, my wife and I have started thinking about when we’re going to start talking with them about a lot of these issues – police brutality and racism and what goes on in this country.”
Blue Jays agree to deal with first-round pick Austin Martin – Sportsnet.ca
The Toronto Blue Jays and 2020 first-round draft pick Austin Martin have agreed to a contract, Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae has learned. The deal is pending a physical.
Financial terms of the contract have not been disclosed, but the fifth-overall pick carries an assigned slot value of $6,180,700.
Martin was viewed as the best “pure hitter” in the draft and posted an eye-popping .377/.507/.660 batting line in 16 games with Vanderbilt before the 2020 NCAA season was shut down. He was expected to be drafted within the first three selections, but ended up falling to Toronto at No. 5.
The Blue Jays announced Martin as a shortstop on draft day, but it’s unclear where he’ll line up defensively. His versatility is another one of his strongest assets and he could end up at third base, second base or centre field if Toronto elects to move him off shortstop. It’s also possible he’ll be used as a super utiity-style player without a true, defined position.
Baseball America ranked the 21-year-old 16th on their latest Top 100 prospect list. First-overall pick Spencer Torkelson of the Detroit Tigers — coming in at No. 11 — was the only member of the 2020 class above Martin.
Fourth-round selection Nick Frasso is now the only Blue Jays draftee unsigned.
Washington Redskins undergoing 'thorough review' of team name – CBC.ca
The Washington Redskins are undergoing a “thorough review” of their name.
The National Football League team said Friday it has been talking to the league for weeks about the subject. In a statement, the team said recent events around the U.S. and feedback from the community prompted the formal review.
“This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,” owner Dan Snyder said.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “In the last few weeks, we have had ongoing discussions with Dan, and we are supportive of this important step.”
The recent national debate over racism renewed calls for the franchise to change the name, and sponsors this week started mounting their own pressure. Investors this week wrote to FedEx, PepsiCo and other sponsors asking them to request a change.
FedEx, the title sponsor of the team’s stadium in Landover, Md., said Thursday, “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”
On Thursday night, Nike appeared to remove all of the team’s gear from its online store. Nike did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment.
Coach Ron Rivera, who said in a recent radio interview that now is not the time to discuss the name, called it “an issue of personal importance.” Rivera said he’d work closely with Snyder during the process.
Washington mayor Muriel Bowser said recently the name was an “obstacle” to the team building a stadium in the District.
The current lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and the old RFK Stadium site in Washington is one of several options for the team’s new headquarters, along with locations in Maryland and Virginia.
Experts and advocates have called the name a “dictionary-defined racial slur.”
Until this point, Snyder has shown no willingness to consider a change.
In late June, the team removed racist founder George Preston Marshall from its Ring of Fame. A monument to him was also removed from the RFK Stadium site.
Hamilton fastest, Stroll 7th in Friday practice – TSN
SPIELBERG, Austria — Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time in the first two practice sessions for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on Friday.
Lance Stroll was the top Canadian, driving his Racing Point to seventh in Free Practice 2, less than a second behind Hamilton. Nicholas Latifi, racing his first Grand Prix in F1 this weekend, finished the second practice session 20th, 2.8 seconds behind the leader.
The British driver twice finished ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas on the 4.3-kilometre (2.7-mile) Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg nestled at the foot of the Styrian mountains in southern Austria.
Bottas was .356 seconds behind Hamilton in the damp and overcast morning run and improved to .197 back as the track dried and became warmer in the afternoon. Late in that session, however, he had to return to the pits because of a braking issue.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who has won the past two races here, was third quickest in the first practice but slipped to eighth in the second session and encountered oversteering problems.
Ferrari struggled for speed in the morning with Charles Leclerc 10th quickest and Sebastian Vettel only 12th, but improved in the afternoon with Vettel pushing up to fourth behind Sergio Perez in third. Perez’s Racing Point team uses Mercedes engines.
Although Vettel showed good cornering speed, he was still a somewhat distant .657 seconds adrift of Hamilton’s time in the second session.
Ferrari is racing with the same car it used in preseason testing in February and has not made any upgrades, while Mercedes and other teams have.
After making a late strategy decision in terms of aerodynamic development this week, Ferrari is not upgrading its cars until the third race in Hungary, where practice starts on July 17.
Austria is hosting back-to-back races as part of an eight-race European swing, after the season was postponed for four months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
There are no fans allowed at races until further notice.
More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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