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Eric Woodyard, ESPN 1y

Bucks' Sterling Brown sees playing as chance for social justice campaign

NBA, Milwaukee Bucks

BucksĀ guardĀ Sterling Brown, who was shocked with a Taser gun by Milwaukee police in 2018 after being cited for a parking violation, sees the NBA's restart in Orlando as an opportunity to campaign for issues of social justice and racial equality.

"A lot of eyes will be on us while we're in Orlando," he told ESPN on Thursday. "People can actually see us and see our messages that we can give while we're playing or at halftime, before a game or whatever. There's a lot of ways to get out key messages and I feel like I want to take advantage of that. We've got a platform like none other. We've got resources like none other.

"I feel it's important for me to continue to play to use my platform because my platform has given me a voice and it has allowed people to follow me and see me and it's allowed people to become more passionate with the movement that's going on."

Brown watched on social media as George Floyd died while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. Brown was upset and angry but saw it as "confirmation" for a bigger cause.

Brown, 25, has a civil rights case pending against the city of Milwaukee, alleging that police officers used excessive force when they shocked him with a Taser after he was cited for a parking violation.

Social justice and racial equality are near and dear to his heart.

"I've always played to win since day one, but right now, that's not my main focus. I definitely feel like by playing, we can use the platform to promote different things. To promote what's going on currently with the police brutality and fighting for justice, but we can also promote many other problems that's in the black community because we will have a platform," Brown said.

"It's allowed my case to bring light to the injustices and everything that's going on in the city of Milwaukee and their police department. So, the platform that we have is powerful and it does bring recognition and it does change mindsets and it does get dialogue going and it gets people aware and it gets people fired up. It gets them ready to make something happen to get change with injustice and equality and all of the above for our community. So I'm going to continue to use my platform and the resources that I have been waiting for really."

Brown isn't a member of the NBA players coalition, which is currently pushing back on the summer restart because of issues they feel are more important to the black community. But he says he doesn't think their point of view needs to create division in the league.

"I don't disagree with guys that want to sit out, they're definitely doing it for a good cause, they're doing it for a good reason. But me, personally, I feel like it's an opportunity for me to use more of our platform and our resources to continue to bring awareness and shine light," Brown said.

"It's all for a greater cause. We've got to focus on that. Right now is not the time to try to divide us because some people want to sit out and some people want to play. No, we're all in this together as a community and if we're going to be in this together as a community, everybody's not going to always see eye-to-eye.

"We've got to do this on every level. It's going to take every level for us to continue to elevate our current situation. It's going to take the ground workers who've been on the ground every day, people in the business world, the entertainment world and people on every level to elevate us. It's not just going to be, 'Oh, we do this one thing' because that's not how the white America, the world or United States operate just on one level, so we've got to have people fighting on every level."

In the wake of Floyd's death, Brown has urged the league and its owners to tap into their resources to financially support more reforms and black causes. He has launched his SALUTE Foundation to create opportunities. Earlier this month, he joined the Bucks' organization for its public protest march in support of social justice. He is planning to host another Juneteenth march and rally on Friday in his hometown Maywood, Illinois.

When the Bucks do step on the court in Orlando, Brown plans to be fully equipped to raise awareness by educating himself and others.

"It's definitely tough. I struggle with it every day, but I've still got family that I've got to feed and make sure that I'm good and solid as a person as well. I'm definitely going to fight for my people, I've always been fighting for my people and I've always stood up for what was right and against what was wrong and I always have been there to try to make my voice as loud as possible," Brown said of returning to basketball.

"Even back in college [at SMU], I was doing the protests. I've always stood for my people and fought for my people, but at the same time I do have a job that I've tapped into. I put a lot of my blood, sweat and tears into for my family and for myself to eat and to change my generational structure, to make my generation, my family and everything to sit in a better position financially and I use those finances to also help my community and help the world.

"So, it's not like I'm just going out here just to play basketball just to get some money then go sit back down and chill, no, I have never done that and won't do that. I've pretty much bridged the gap. I keep my main focus as to why I'm doing what I'm doing ... and I know that my main focus is not just myself. I've got to feed myself, others around me, my family, friends and community. I'm trying to help elevate the black community so I'm doing it with a different focus and drive."

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