Best supports march to make our world better’
Trailblazing footballer Clyde Best backed protesters yesterday as they prepared to demonstrate in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign tomorrow.
Mr Best, who endured racism during his professional career in England, advised people to learn from the outrage that had swept the world since George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after he was arrested by police 12 days ago in Minnesota.
He said the demonstration could make a difference.
Mr Best added: “I support it as long as we learn from it — learn to live and love one another. If it’s going to make the world better, that’s what we need.”
Protesters in Bermuda will gather on Front Street at noon tomorrow.
They will join thousands of people around the world who want to express their horror over the circumstances of Mr Floyd’s death.
Mr Best said: “It’s amazing to see these demonstrations — it’s something that had to be done.
“We can’t afford to have more of this happening, what happened to George Floyd.”
Mr Best, 69, who suffered racist abuse as one of the first top-flight black footballers in Britain during his eight seasons with West Ham United between 1968 and 1976, said he would keep his distance from gatherings during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He is celebrated as one of the first black sports stars in Britain at a time when the short-lived neo-fascist and white supremacist National Front was at its peak — with one of its heartlands in the East End of London, the home of West Ham.
Mr Best said: “It was a lot different, what I went through then. When I was playing football, there was racism, and in a sense, I was brought up a certain way to understand that.
“When you’re out there playing, there’s going to be racism, but you can’t let it get you down.
“You have to think of the other players who are coming behind you.
“What’s happened now, this is going across the whole world, and that’s a good thing.”
He said he had watched video footage of Mr Floyd’s death, where a police officer could be seen with his knee pressed down on his neck for more than eight minutes, despite his desperate pleas that he was unable to breathe.
Mr Best added: “People are fed up. You see something like that, right in front of your eyes — I’m a decent human being. I don’t want to see that sort of stuff. That’s why it’s good to have protests and people out to support it. It’s a shame it had to happen, but they’re doing the right thing.”
“If people weren’t saying anything, it could happen again tomorrow. Let’s do what we have to do to make our world better.”
Mr Best added there was no escape from the ugly realities of racism in a world full of mobile phones — and that technology could be used to call people to account.
Mr Best said: “It’s a different world now. You can’t get away from what’s happening because of all the mobile phones and cameras.
“Anybody that’s not going to use their head, and go to do trouble, you have to be prepared for the consequences. There are little children that know how to work the cameras in phones better than grown-ups. What happened to George Floyd, that was filmed by a 17-year-old girl. And to kill somebody like that in front of children — what’s that going to do to people?”
The teenager who filmed the death on her phone, Darnella Frazier, was reported to have needed counselling and has also suffered online threats.
Mr Best said: “Nobody should have to die like George Floyd died. Especially when you’re hearing him calling for his mum.”
Protests in American cities against racism, which have continued, have sometimes flared into violence, especially at night.
Mr Best emphasised his support came with qualifiers.
He said: “It’s good to protest as long as nobody’s going to get hurt.”
Peaceful demonstrations in Bermuda were sparked by the appointment of a controversial contributor to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Lee Rizzuto Jr, as the US Consul General.
Protesters who gathered twice this week outside the US Consulate in Devonshire also showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the international wave of outrage over the death of Mr Floyd.
The protest tomorrow, organised by Black Lives Matter BDA, will start at the Birdcage on Front Street at noon and run until 3.30pm.
The Black Lives Matter campaign was founded in the US seven years ago with a mandate to end racism and violence directed against black people.
Mr Best said: “The most important thing is to grow and always remember you should not judge any person by the colour of their skin.
“At the end of the day, it’s the fellow up top that’s going to be calling the shots.
“It’s 2020 now. Let’s be good citizens and good people. Then we can say we did what we needed to do.”
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