In the wake of George Floyd’s death, NBA players have expressed themselves on the matter of social injustice. Around the league, players have opened up to share personal stories about their troubled interactions with law enforcement — including Houston Rockets’ forward Robert Covington.
In a Zoom conference with reporters on Friday, Covington said he was racially profiled, harassed and threatened by a police officer when he was in middle school.
“I have been so adamant about creating change because of the experiences I’ve had with police in the past,” he said. “I’ve had interactions where I’ve been racially profiled and called racial slurs by not just a white cop — but just by a cop in general.”
The Rockets’ swingman recounts a time when he was playing football in a Chicago neighborhood where a police officer falsely detained him and his cousin. Covington said a homeowner called the cops when the two kids he and his cousin were playing with would not stop eradicating the man’s property.
Once the police became involved, Covington said the cop arrested him and his cousin — although the homeowner came to their defense for handcuffing the wrong kids. Covington said once they made their way to the station, he noticed he could not get out of the police car because of his tall stature. After declaring he was stuck, the cop threatened to break Covington’s leg.
“I had got stuck in the car because I was too tall, and the way my foot was position — I could not get out,” Covington said. “After I told him I could not get out….he said, ‘If you don’t get out of this car, I am going to break your leg to get you out of this car.'”
Another officer came to assist Covington’s exit from the police vehicle, but not without being detained for several more hours. After multiple attempts with different family members, it took his grandfather and godmother for the station to release both Covington and his cousin.
A few weeks later, the officer who harassed and threatened the then middle schooler was fired, led by Covington’s uncle — who was the Police Chief of Chicago. Covington said this was just one of many instances that involved a negative interaction with law enforcement.
“There have been several times people have racially profiled me just being a black kid walking down the street. It is time for us to make that change. Racism isn’t a color. It’s just racism, period.” — Covington.
(Photo Credit: USA Today Sports )