NFL players Chris and Kyle Long, who hail from Charlottesville, Virginia, were among the sports stars who condemned the violence that erupted in the city over the weekend.
White supremacists had gathered in Charlottesville to protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E Lee and were met by counter-protestors. On Saturday, a car was driven into a crowd of peaceful counter protestors, killing one woman, 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
On Saturday Chris Long, who won the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots last season, offered a withering assessment of the far-right protestors, who took to the streets with torches. “Insanely frustrating. Evolution will favor the self assured … not man babies with tiki torches or people playing ‘militia’”, he wrote on Twitter. Long chose not to attend the Patriots’ visit to the White House to meet Donald Trump after their Super Bowl victory.
Chris Long added on Sunday that most people from Charlottesville would have objected to the far-right protestors. “I haven’t seen statistics but I’d be willing to bet the vast majority of people voicing those white supremacist sentiments were from out of town,” he said. “The majority of the people that were defending our hometown against ideals like that were from Charlottesville, or students. It’s disheartening but I really think it’s desperation for those folks to feel threatened by us doing the right thing.”
On Saturday, LeBron James took a swipe at Trump, who has been criticized for not condemning the white supremacists specifically. “It’s sad what’s going on in Charlottesville. Is this the direction our country is heading? Make America Great Again huh?! He said that,” he wrote on Twitter.
Kyle Long echoed his brother Chris’s comments about his hometown. “Obviously, people ask, ‘You’re from Charlottesville?’ it kind of leaves a bad taste in their mouths thinking that one of their guys is from Charlottesville, where they see all these rallies and stuff happening. Like I said, don’t let a few bad apples ruin what is really true about Charlottesville and that area – there’s good folks there,” said the Chicago Bears offensive guard.