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Lloyd Pierce responds to shooting of Jacob Blake

The Hawks’ head coach is back on the front lines.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Coaches Association racial injustice and reform committee member is hard at work again.

Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce wasted no time in his response to the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake was shot at seven times by an officer while cops were attempting to arrest the 27-year-old. Blake was reportedly breaking up a fight between two women at the time the police showed up. Shortly after, Pierce retweeted a video from lawyer and civil rights advocate Ben Crump.

With its proximity to Milwaukee, a 42-minute drive according to Google Maps, the Milwaukee Bucks decided to go on strike and not play Game 5 of a first round series against the Orlando Magic. Teams scheduled to participate in the remaining two games the same night then followed suit, and no NBA games were played for three days. During the strike, Pierce recorded a video encouraging citizens to vote.

“Help us keep the momentum going by remembering the third of November,” Pierce said in the video. “We need everybody to register to vote, educate yourselves on the process of voting and to participate.”

Then, the press run.

He went on NBA TV.

“I think it’s very powerful our players would commit to a stoppage of play,” Pierce said on NBATV. “The frustration, the anger, the emotions that we’re seeing off the court coupled with the amount of people that are in Orlando without their families, when you add all of those factors in, it’s tough. It’s a really pivotal time in our lives and to watch it and to feel somewhat helpless is really the reaction of our players and why they felt the need to pause for a moment to figure out what they could do and what we should all be doing trying to improve these situations.”

Then, CNN.

“If our players are in a position to reach millions every single day because we enjoy watching basketball, then they’re capable of telling millions every single day that we’re frustrated, we’re in fear and we’re in anger of what we’re seeing with regards to policing, with regards to inequities within our country,” Pierce said on CNN. “If people aren’t hearing that, if people aren’t understanding that for someone like myself and some of our players who are Black, our league is 80% Black, then maybe we need to stop playing for a little bit so you guys can hear us a little bit louder.”

Pierce also saluted the WNBA, MLB, NHL and MLS for their stoppages as well. CNN’s John Berman then showed Pierce a clip of protest critics calling NBA players “privileged” to which Pierce responded “I think we’re all infuriated by criticisms of our acts.” The acts he referred to include the national anthem protests popularized by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“We don’t want people to be distracted by the act, we want people to what’s going on and how we feel about what’s going on in our country,” Pierce told Berman. “Yes, we’re speaking from a position of privilege. We are athletes, we are in an extremely well-paid position, we all understand that. This is why it’s our civic duty and responsibility to speak out. To take a day off. To take two days off. To make a statement so we bring awareness and find ways to get to tangible action. This is what it’s all about. We don’t want to just make a statement or wear a shirt, we want to see things change.”

Pierce stayed in the Turner family and appeared on HLN with Coy Wire on “Morning Express with Robin Meade.”

Then, Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, who is an Atlanta native, reported on Pierce waiting to speak with Blake’s father, Jacob Blake, Sr. to see how the league can help humanize his son “and create lasting change.”

The work for Pierce, who said meeting historic Atlanta figures like the late John Lewis convinced him to become an activist, isn’t done and once again, has gone beyond posting a black square.