Ben Simmons’ tweets in the early hours of Tuesday morning spoke volumes.
The 76ers All-Star point guard didn’t include President Donald Trump’s name in the messages, but it was clear who Simmons was referring to in his passionate statement about seeking racial unity and equality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
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“This is not what a leader looks like,” he tweeted at 12:35 a.m. “His actions and cold words are cowardly. Do not allow these messages of hate and divide draw your attention away from the REAL goal of UNITY and EQUALITY which is to achieved through LOVE and COMPASSION. I love y’all and stay safe.”
Ten minutes later, Simmons followed up his initial tweet, which received more than 15,200 likes and 2,000 retweets, but mixed comments.
“Let me be clear. I will ALWAYS fight for equality and unity," he tweeted. “If you call yourself a fan of me but do not agree with EQUALITY and UNITY for everyone then I don’t want or need you in my corner.”
His tweets came hours after a peaceful protest in Lafayette Square was forcibly interrupted to clear a path for Trump to walk through for a photo in front of a church, followed by his speech in the Rose Garden vowing to send the military to states where governors couldn’t bring rioting under control.
Police officers and National Guard units flooded the square to forcefully push back protesters and doused them with tear gas just before Washington’s 7 p.m. curfew, so Trump could have his photo taken holding a Bible at St. John’s Church, where a fire caused damage to its basement Sunday night. In addition to holding the Bible, he posed with senior members of his administration.
In the Rose Garden, Trump called himself the “law and order” president.
“As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel and law enforcement to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults and the wanton destruction of property,” he said. “We will end it now.”
Trump said he might invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act, permitting a president to deploy the military to deal with civil disorder in the United States.
The protests are in response to the May 25 death of Floyd, a 46-year-old African American who died at the hands of fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white.