The ever-growing issue between law enforcement and and Black people has affect Melo and his hometown of Baltimore which just acquitted six police officers after facing charges resulting from the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray. ESPN sat down with Melo to discuss the problems and how Melo is stepping up.
How Freddie Grey’s death sparked his decision to speak out:
“But when it’s powerful, timing is everything, and for me the Freddie Gray thing was the one that tipped me off. It was like something just exploded. It was like [snaps] now was the time. Enough is enough. And everybody’s calling me like, “We should do this” or “We should do that,” and I was like, “I’m going home.” If you want to come with me, you come with me, but I’m going home. I’m not calling reporters and getting on the news; I’m actually going there. I wanted to feel that. I wanted to feel that pain. I wanted to feel that tension.”
On having the NBA’s support:
“The NBA is very supportive. They want to team up with us and be behind it, but at the end of the day it’s still a corporation, so there’s only so far that they’re going to let you go. And one gesture’s not going to change anything. So regardless of if we stand out there and put our arms around each other to show unity and solidarity, on the flip side, at the moment somebody goes out there and puts their fist up, that’s going to be something different.”
I spoke to him that night. He reached out to me that night. And I’m watching and I’m like, “OK.” Like, “What’s next?” In a very respectful way, he was like, “I took this step and, you know, just wanted to get your thoughts on what’s happening.” And I said, “Well, you’re courageous.” I said, “You just showed a lot of courage in what you just did, but now is the hard part because you have to keep it going. So if that was just a one-time thing, then you’re fucked. But now you keep it going and be articulate and elaborate on why you’re doing it, and be educated and knowledgeable of why you’re doing it so when people ask, you can stand up for what you believe in and really let them hear why.”
Read the rest of Carmelo’s interview where he speaks on black communities, the evolution of the athlete and more, here.