Throughout the week, Atlanta Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, star point guard Trae Young and CEO Steve Koonin were actively using their platforms to take a stand against institutional and systemic racism in America. With that spirit in mind, Atlanta Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler issued a statement to the media Friday night:

“This is a time when all of us need to focus on this critical and all too pervasive human issue – systemic racism. To be as blunt as possible on this topic of dignity, decency and progress, I emphatically believe that you are either part of the solution or you are the problem. Black lives matter. There is no in-between.  We, as an organization and part of the Atlanta community, are determined to be a part of the solution.

Jami and I believe that as the owners of a professional sports franchise in the great city of Atlanta, we have a responsibility to take a stand and devote our resources to supporting programming and causes that bring about the most impactful changes possible. The continuing effects of centuries of racism and prejudice are massive. The inequities are plain to see in how certain communities are unjustly policed, the staggering incarceration rate and the financial disparities among different races. We are keenly aware that these are longstanding, complex issues that have no instant cures.

However, I am proud of the step our organization took today and can promise that our franchise will continue taking the steps and supporting the causes that lead to a more tolerant, anti-racist society.”

Earlier in the day, a joint statement was released by the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena, denouncing racism on all levels as they continue to take the steps to remain, ‘True to Atlanta’:

“Earlier today, members of our organization at every level – from part-time to ownership – joined together virtually to discuss the recent and recurring examples of weaponized racism, police brutality and race-based preferential treatment affecting people of color, especially the Black Community, across the nation.

Al Vivian, the President and CEO of Basic Diversity, led us through a conversation filled with anger, tears, disgust, fear and sadness before helping us transition into a place of hope and solutions – a place to begin to “plot, plan, strategize and mobilize,” to borrow the eloquent words of our friend and partner Killer Mike. Our conversation today was the first of many we will have as we seek ways to bring about lasting change and make certain that Black lives matter.

In a world full of corporate ‘statements’ and 280-character declarations, we know the greatest statement we can make is by taking action. As part of our conversation today, every member of our organization committed to using their voice to stand against racism and injustice. As an organization, we have vowed to use our platform and influence to register voters and continue denouncing the ideology and broken systems that led to the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others before them. We hold ourselves accountable to be leaders in our community and will use our position to be a force for justice and for what is right.”

As we have covered in the past, the Atlanta Hawks have done an amazing job in leading the conversation surrounding race relations.

“Enough is enough and we can’t be silent anymore,” Collins wrote in a recent post to his Twitter account.


Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...

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