Six-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton joined the worldwide chorus of voices condemning the death of George Floyd this week, saying he was "overcome with rage" at the brutality. And his employers at Mercedes say they back him 100 percent.
Floyd, an unarmed black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes, all captured on video by bystanders, as Floyd repeatedly told the police "I can't breathe." The nation, and even cities overseas, have seen peaceful protests in the days since, as well as some rioting and looting.
"This past week has been so dark," Hamilton wrote on Instagram. "I have failed to keep hold of my emotions. I have felt so much anger, sadness and disbelief in what my eyes have seen.
"I am completely overcome with rage at the sight of such blatant disregard for the lives of our people. The injustice that we are seeing our brothers and sisters face all over the world time and time again is disgusting, and MUST stop.
"So many people seem surprised, but to us unfortunately, it is not surprising. Those of us who are black, brown or in between, see it every day and should not have to feel as though we were born guilty, don't belong, or fear for our lives based on the colour of our skin.
"Will Smith said it best, racism is not getting worse, it's being filmed. Only now that the world is so well equipped with cameras has this issue been able to come to light in such a big way.
"It is only when there are riots and screams for justice that the powers that be cave in and do something, but by then it is far too late and not enough has been done. It took hundreds of thousands of peoples complaints and buildings to burn before officials reacted and decided to arrest Derek Chauvin for murder, and that is sad.
"Unfortunately, America is not the only place where racism lives and we continue to fail as humans when we cannot stand up for what is right. Please do not sit in silence, no matter the colour of your skin. Black Lives Matter."
Hamilton's boss, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, backed his superstar's comments.
"We know that Lewis is always a strong supporter of any minorities," said Wolff. "To be honest, I have learned a lot from him as well.
"He has asked me the question once, 'Have you ever had the active thought that you are white?' And I said, 'No, actually I have never thought about it,' and he said, 'Well, you know, I need to think about it every day because I am being made aware that I am [black]'.
"Therefore, it's very difficult for us to comprehend how difficult it is and therefore I am happy and supportive that he has come out vocal. He is one of the ambassadors of this sport and I think it's good."
Several other F1 drivers, such as Charles Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo, have supported Hamilton's comments. And Formula One itself said, "We stand with all those fighting against racism in any form," a day after Hamilton called out the organization for not having commented.
Hamilton will return to practice at Silverstone next week as Formula One prepares to begin its season, long delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Drivers have not raced since December, with the planned season-opener in Australia cancelled in March, and while they have been busy training during the lockdown some are concerned about preparedness. The season begins July 5 in Austria.
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