Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce reacts to protests and riots at U.S. Capitol



Lloyd Pierce has become a prominent voice on matters of racial injustice and reform, and the Hawks coach addressed the protests and riots at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. The reaction of police and protestors is under scrutiny when compared with those during Black Lives Matter and other social-injustice protests in Atlanta and around the country last year.

“It’ll never change until there’s an acknowledgement that there’s a difference,” Pierce said when asked about a double standard in policing before the Hawks played the Hornets at State Farm Arena on Wednesday night. “It’ll never change unless there’s acknowledgement of the past with regard to how African Americans have always been treated and the history of that, and going back to slavery and going back to reconstruction and going back to civil rights. You can’t say that things are going to change if you don’t acknowledge that it’s a problem. And what you’re seeing today is a reminder that there’s a huge difference. There’s a reason why there isn’t shootings and brutality and looting and things of that nature, and people are just walking around the Capitol building as if it’s nothing, and there’s people sitting in Nancy Pelosi’s office as if it’s nothing.

“We all understand that that would have been guns ablaze and fires ablaze right now if that were Black people protesting, if there were Black people protesting on the outside. We haven’t even mentioned getting inside and tearing up the building. But we can’t, nothing’s going to change until we acknowledge that there is a huge difference in how Black people are treated, with regard to law enforcement, and that just hasn’t happened. We’ve been fighting for that, there’s been protests about that, there’s a reason why people have encouraged others to get out and vote to change leadership. But until you truly acknowledge that there is a difference in how Black people are treated in this country, especially with regard to law enforcement, in situations like this, that’s not going to change.”

Pierce has been heavily involved the 2020 election, improving voter turnout and helping establish State Farm Arena as a polling place, also serving as a greeter and volunteer there during the general election. He is a member of a seven-person committee that the National Basketball Coaches Association created to discuss issues of race and solutions to injustice. In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Pierce gave a speech before an NAACP march in downtown Atlanta.

The protests and riots at the U.S. Capitol comes a day after Raphael Warnock won a Georgia runoff election for the U.S. Senate, becoming the first Black senator from the state, and the day Congress was finalizing the Electoral College results to confirm Joe Biden as President of the United States.

“It’s not unexpected,” Pierce said of the reactions in Washington, D.C. “It’s tragic in nature. I think it’s sad, honestly. It’s a sad reality, is really what it is. It’s unfortunate that this is what we’re looking at in our country after the year we’ve been through. But it’s not unexpected. I think a day, for someone like me, an African American man, to really look at here in the state of Georgia, and you see someone like Raphael Warnock become the first African American man from the state of Georgia representing the state of Georgia going to the Senate, and you see the following day that this is the reaction, this is the reality. It’s no coincidence that this is the reaction to all of the events that are going in with regard to what has happened on a very promising election yesterday. The people of Georgia came out and voted. African Americans in the state of Georgia voted at a higher rate than they did in the Nov. 3 election, and they spoke up for the state and for this country. And we live in a divided country. We can say it’s power and it’s politics, but it’s race as well. And today is a reflection, and it’s a truth. For those that have ever neglected the issues concerning people of color, communities of color, African Americans and their ability to have access, if you’ve ever neglected that, you’re seeing it today, to say that it’s real. Racism is real. The issues are real. The protests, they were real because what we’re seeing now is it’s a sad reality that our country has yet to really reckon with and acknowledge.

“For those that didn’t believe it, I hope you believe it now, and I hope you really want to be a part of the solution, as many people have. I salute the organizers who have done a tremendous job of encouraging people to vote so their voice can be heard because their voice has been heard, especially here in Georgia but also in our country, and the elections. But I think the people that have been organizing understood that this issue has been heard for a long time and those that have denied it are seeing the reactions. No one wants to see a federal building being destroyed because of divisiveness and politics and race, but we’re seeing it. So now it’s just, what do we do? I’ve said all along, after Nov. 3, it was great, everybody wanted people to vote Nov. 3, but after Nov. 3, what are we going to do as a country, what am I going to do as a coach, what are we going to do as an organization? This is why. We knew this was coming. We didn’t know when. We knew this was coming. We knew it wasn’t going to happen easily. So it’s unfortunate. It’s sad. It’s really sad in our country that we’re seeing it, but it’s the reality. It’s a sad reality.”