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Hamilton not planning Spa protest

NEWS STORY
27/08/2020

World champion, Lewis Hamilton says he has no intention of following the example of a number of other sports stars who have refused to participate in their sports following the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Blake was shot by the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin last Sunday and other than widespread civil unrest, players and teams have withdrawn from various games and tournament in protest.

Tennis player Naomi Osaka pulled out of a major tournament in New York today, while NBA, WNBA, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer events have been postponed following boycotts, initiated by the Milwaukee Bucks' basketball team players who refused to leave their locker room ahead of their game.

Hamilton, who has become increasingly outspoken in recent months, took to Instagram earlier to give his support to Osaka, sparking fears that he could follow suit and refuse to participate in this weekend's Grand Prix.

Asked at today's video conference if he is considering withdrawing from the event, he said: "It's incredible what many out there in the States are doing within their sports, all the way down to the people that are hosting, the commentators for example.

"So many people are standing with the players, and really pushing for change," he continued. "It's a shame that's what is needed over there in order to get a reaction. But that is in America, and I don't know if me doing anything here will particularly have any effect. We're in Belgium, we're not in the United States.

"I haven't spoken to anybody about it, but I am really proud of so many out there. I do stand unified with them, trying to do what I can over here.

"I don't know how us not doing the race…" he continued, "it will still go on, it's a thing. But I'll still try and speak to Formula 1 to see what else we can do, to continue to raise awareness, continue to help push. Naturally I think as a sport, I think we all need to be aligned. We all need to be supporting one another, even though it is a different sport."

Sebastian Vettel, a director of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, agreed that while shocked by events in Kenosha, he did not feel boycotting the race would have any impact in the US.

"The measures that have been taken in the US with some players boycotting or going on strike, not going out for the games and therefore the games having to be postponed, I think maybe they are more US-specific," he said. "From where we are, we seem to be quite happy as drivers of our actions, and want to keep sending that message.

"Having said that, we know that it doesn't change things overnight, and it's only a very small contribution," he admitted. "But hopefully everybody that's tuned in and sees it gets the point and gets the message, and takes a bit of that for the next steps that he faces in life.

"One thing is to take action in public," he insisted. "I think more importantly, it's what everyone is deciding or how everyone is acting or confronting it once the cameras are off. That's true for us, being in a spotlight in a certain amount during a weekend, but also valid for everyone else."

Of course, while F1 bosses have been happy to introduce the 'We Race As One' initiative and introduce a pre-race ceremony aimed at shedding light on the various issues, the idea of boycotting races is another matter entirely.

At a time the sport is reporting a 90% drop in revenue and doing all in its power to pull together some semblance of a championship season, a race boycott - for whatever reason - would be disastrous and its effects would be felt throughout the paddock.

And, of course, it goes without saying that as F1's owners, Liberty Media seek to expand the sport in the US, such a boycott would not be well received.

Over the years, US F1 fans have been given a raw deal by the sport, and with the fiasco of Indianapolis 2005 still fresh in many minds, a race boycott - even in far-away Europe - could prove the final straw.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Spa, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Superbird70, 28/08/2020 19:15

"@GMoose, Sorry to say all of North America has embedded racism. People of colour have always been at a disadvantage. White people don't see it because we take our freedoms for granted. "

Rating: Negative (-3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by GMoose, 28/08/2020 14:20

"Like most wealthy athletes Hamilton has enormous opportunity to help black communities around the world. Protests and boycotts are generally for helpless folks desperate to draw attention to their plight. The United States is not a racist country. Hamilton is very ignorant of the US, world history and the forces at world to create a situation. There is every program and advantage for black American's to succeed; get a job, raise a family and fit in to society, e.i: Obama. He knows how to drive a car thanks to his father's great perseverance and vision for his son's future. Just drive your car Lewis."

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3. Posted by Italian Job, 28/08/2020 9:03

"Lewis needs to remember that, whether he likes it or not, he is an "international personality of interest" - not that different from the Sussex's. The popular media will inevitably quote (or even misquote) creatively and selectively.
For this reason, I think that he would be much better off counting to ten, thinking, counting to ten again, and then either saying something bland like "let's wait until we know everything" or just keeping quiet.

"

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4. Posted by Greg, 28/08/2020 8:32

"@ChickenFarmerF1. Agree with your statements. ?media does tend to tell one side of a story, use headlines to attract the readers. Until all facts are known its better to stay shut. It is tragic what happens in the States with the violence and guns. But it also happens elsewhere albeit on a smaller scale and doesn't attract the headlines as much. Glad I dont live there. Tje boycotting of games etc doesnt do much either. It won't change the mentality or mortality of the peolpe and will soon be forgotten."

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5. Posted by Lakota, 28/08/2020 0:02

"Lewis. The guy had warrants out on him. He was not supposed to be where he was . He resisted arrest. He had a knife on the floor of his vehicle . That's why he got shot. "

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6. Posted by Kkiirmki, 27/08/2020 23:21

"Thank you, @ChickenFarmerF1, well said.
"

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7. Posted by Steve W, 27/08/2020 20:27

"How about everyone wear an "End Crime" T-shirt? I've been pulled over by the cops for speeding and once, a DUI. I didn't get shot, suffocated or beat up not because I'm white, but because I didn't give the cops any SH!T. "

Rating: Positive (7)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

8. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 27/08/2020 20:06

"This is getting close to costing Mr Hamilton a fan. If he were to boycott a race I'll be done with him. And if F1 cancels a race in "support" of the mob, I'm done with F1. The Jacob Blake incident is nothing like the major media outlets are proclaiming. He wasn't supposed to be there due to a restraining order for domestic violence, he fought with the cops (aka resisting arrest), they tried to tase him (taser failed), he was armed with a knife, claimed to have a gun in the car and went for the vehicle. He has a long rap sheet, and had an open arrest warrant for sexual assault on a minor. This is not the kind of person to make into a martyr. It's sad that his kids witnessed him being shot, but frankly, Jacob Blake was the one that put them in that situation, not the cops. His actions forced the cops' hands, and resulted in him being seriously wounded and nearly killed.

The civil unrest is almost entirely being done by white people. They're burning down black neighborhoods and businesses, supposedly in the name of protecting black people from police abuse. The 3 rioters shot (2 fatally) in Kenosha were all white, and each had extensive criminal histories themselves (including rape of a minor). How that is supposed to help minority communities is beyond my ability to comprehend.

Besides all that, seeing a fantastically wealthy and successful man that is one of the best drivers the world has ever seen lecture me on racism, especially over incidents like the above, that have absolutely no impact on him or the community he lives in, his ability to succeed and be fantastically wealthy, his speed on the track or anything else, is not what I want to be subjected to when I tune into race coverage. I want to see him drive like only he can. The man lapped everyone in Spain except his teammate and the 1 driver that (in a good enough car) could legitimately challenge him for the championship. Shut up and go race!"

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9. Posted by Superbird70, 27/08/2020 18:39

"Maybe something simple like replacing some sponsor logos with the names of those shot or killed might be appropriate? Nothing like having the names of some victims prominently displayed for 1.5 hours to get the point across. Unfortunately, the North American audience might be too small to have an impact. If it was NASCAR it might be more effective. "

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