In light of the guilty verdict in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the USC football team opted to postpone its spring practice Tuesday and dedicate its afternoon session to discussing racial injustice as a team.
“While we realize there is much work that needs to be done, it is important not to push the conversation to a later date as our Los Angeles community has witnessed injustices for years,” the team wrote in a statement. “We will continue to work with our university and local communities to use our platform to promote positive change.”
Echoing that statement, offensive tackle Jalen McKenzie wrote in a post on Instagram that USC players "could not go along with our daily routine without due acknowledgment of the veracity of the Guilty on All Counts Verdict served in the American court system today."
USC’s next spring practice is slated for Wednesday.
Several USC football players took part in protests last summer, as racial tensions erupted nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
In discussing their anger over Floyd’s death, a group of Black athletes at USC decided last June to form the United Black Student Athletes Assn. The group urged USC athletic director Mike Bohn in a letter “to take bold, decisive action to combat racial inequality and support Black students.”
“Black athletes will not be silent, and USC athletics needs to change,” wrote Anna Cockrell, an All-American hurdler who helped create the group.
USC had responded by creating a Black Lives Matter action team, headed by former Los Angeles Sparks coach Julie Rousseau.
“This is a time for actions, not words,” Bohn wrote in a statement on June 17. “Our intention is not to take the first action, but rather to take the actions that will deliver sustained, long-term impact and progress.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.