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Sixers' Tobias Harris calls for Montgomery County commissioner Joe Gale to resign over BLM comments; Ben Simmons calls President Trump 'cowardly'

Keith Pompey, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Basketball

Tobias Harris publically called for the resignation of Montgomery County commissioner, Joe Gale, who referred to Black Lives Matter as a hate group in a press statement issued Monday.

The 76ers forward followed his tweets by signing a petition Tuesday, demanding Gale's resignation after this weekend's civil unrest in Philadelphia that followed peaceful protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

Fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter four days after he pinned his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while being recorded on video on May 25. Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis, was unarmed and handcuffed and told Chauvin he couldn't breathe.

"What we saw this weekend in Philadelphia was not a protest -- it was a riot," read the opening line of Gale's statement.

He added that nearly every major American city was "ravaged by looting, violence and arson."

"The perpetrators of this urban domestic terror are radical left-wing hate groups like Black Live Matter," wrote Gale, who is a Republican. "This organization, in particular, screams racism not to expose bigotry and injustice, but to justify the lawless destruction of our cities and surrounding communities. Their objective is to unleash chaos and mayhem with consequences by falsely they, in fact, are the victims."

After reading what Gale's release, Harris took to Twitter.

"I honestly can't believe what I'm reading," he said. "@JoeGalePA Black Lives Matter a hate group?! This statement and your whole press release at that is disgusting to read. RESIGN!"

The socially-conscious player then signed and retweeted a Change.org petition calling on Gale to resign.

Harris and teammate Matisse Thybulle attended a peaceful protest Saturday afternoon that was organized by the Philadelphia chapter of Black Lives Matter.

Ben Simmons sounded off on Donald Trump earlier Tuesday, calling the president "cowardly" and saying "this is not what a leader looks like."

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 unity and equality in the wake of George Floyd's death.

 

"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, stay safe."

Ten minutes later, Simmons followed up his initial tweet, which received more than 15,200 likes and 2,000 retweets, and mixed responses.

"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 Trump's orders against protesters in Lafayette Square, followed by a 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 D.C.'s 7 p.m. curfew so Trump could have his picture taken while holding the 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," Trump said. "We will end it now."

Trump also said he may invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act, permitting a president to deploy the military to deal with civil disorder in the United States.

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