Bradley Beal and John Wall may be multimillionaires, but at the end of the day they are black men in America.
Both members of the Wizards backcourt reflected on their experiences with racism and law enforcement. On Friday at the “Together We Stand” march, hosted by the Wizards and the WNBA’s defending-champion Washington Mystics, Beal recounted traumatic experiences with law enforcement to a group of reporters.
“I’ve been pulled over with four hoopers in the car before and we’ve all been taken out and searched because we were black riding in a white neighborhood. I went to an all-white school in high school,” Beal said. He added: “It happened here, two years ago. I got pulled over on 495 and the officer asked me to step out of the vehicle. I’m literally on the side of the highway … my wife, me and one of my friends, sitting in the median of the highway, on the side, and he comes up to me and says, ‘What if I f— up your Monday and put you on a headline and arrest you right now?’ I didn’t do anything. “But because I was an athlete, a black athlete driving a nice vehicle, that’s what he came up with. How am I supposed to respond to that? I would just be waking up on Monday morning with an ESPN headline: ‘Bradley Beal arrested because of interaction with police.’ But it happens. It doesn’t just happen to me, it’s everywhere. We just have to stop being ignorant to that fact that it exists.”
Beal’s teammate John Wall recounted a moment when D.C. police pulled him over after practice. A simple issue involving a turn signal devolved into officers asking him to remove his window tint right on the spot. Wall, a mere blocks away from his home, was petrified despite his status.
“I’m scared to get pulled over,” Wall told Butler. “I’ve seen some people on Twitter when I said that say, ‘Well, what are you scared to get pulled over for, they might want an autograph?’ I said, ‘No, it don’t work like that. I’m still a black athlete in America in this world and I know how it’s going.’ “If I have to get pulled over, I’m going to a gas station or I’m going somewhere where there’s a lot of people and a lot of lights are at. And I’m scared to get pulled over on the highway. You don’t want it to get dark at night and pulled over on the highway because you never know what can happen.”
Turn the page for video of Beal’s full thoughts on police brutality and video of Wall and Beal protesting.