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Arthur Blank, Matt Ryan, other Falcons speak out on George Floyd's death

D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Football

ATLANTA -- While protests spread across the nation over the weekend in response to the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, several Falcons, including owner Arthur Blank, commented on the issues of protesting, social injustice and police brutality.

Some of the protests that started peaceably, turned violence that resulted in property damage.

On the second day of protesting Saturday, which ended with more property damage in Atlanta, a total of 157 people were arrested.

Blank issued a carefully crafted statement that did not mention Floyd by name nor the issue of police brutality, which was the focus on the initial protest by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the 2016 exhibition season.

In the wake of the riots around Atlanta that started Friday, Blank issued a statement Saturday.

"A number of events over the last couple of weeks have reminded us again that the long, worthy quest for equal justice, civility and unity in America is far from over," Blank said in the statement. "People are scared and in pain. Their frustration is real, and it must be acknowledged and addressed. More must be done to address systemic racism. More must be done to address the underlying issues that have led to these incidents across the country. More must be done to bring people together through meaningful change.

 

"The public discourse on these and other issues is too divisive, too political. These are not political issues, they are human issues that need serious, earnest attention from leaders and citizens alike who understand that diversity is our strength and fair treatment is everyone's right. Open, honest dialogue is needed on a much greater scale. It is my hope that we take this terrible moment in our history to elevate that conversation toward productive action and lasting, positive change. Peaceful protests of the past have led to new ways forward. Lawlessness, vandalism and intentionally upending the peace with any form of violence has never been productive and is not the answer. We must not accept or condone violence in any way. And to be sure, Atlanta is better than what we saw in the actions of a few last night.

"Together we will rise above this on the strength of what has always made Atlanta great -- its people, its leaders of past and present and its unique culture that is welcoming to all. Our family foundation and the rest of our businesses here in Atlanta and elsewhere remain committed to being part of the solution."

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan made a plea for "change" in a post on Instagram.

"My heart goes out to all of those who loved George Floyd, and all those who have been impacted by similar tragedies," Ryan wrote. "I know that I cannot fully understand the depth and complexity of these issues because of the color of my skin, which is a sad testament to all of the work we have left to do.

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