Esports organizations and players react to US protests over police brutality

George Floyd Memorial. Image via Getty Images.

In the past week, esports organizations and pro players alike have taken to social media to show support for the growing protest movement in the United States. The protests are in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while in custody of the Minneapolis police. His death was captured on video and shared online, prompting outrage across the country.

Esports organizations respond

Teams like TSM and FaZe Clan issued statements in the days following the incident to express their solidarity with the black community and promote awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement. FaZe specifically promised to donate proceeds of the sales of their 10-year anniversary ILLCAMS collection to a charitable fund: “In honor of George Floyd, who had his life taken away from him in an unacceptable act of racially charged violence, all profits from this sale will be donated to the Memorial Fund in his name.

TSM statement
TSM's official statement on social media.

Some organizations have been criticized for the content of their posts, or for being “too late” in saying something. With social tag #BlackOutTuesday set to go viral on June 2, it was virtually impossible for teams to avoid saying something, even if it did not happen immediately after the protests began in late May.

Developers and gaming companies react

Companies like Blizzard and Riot also issued statements. Riot said that they stand “in solidarity with the Black community against all acts of injustice, racism, prejudice, and hatred,” and that “now is the time to unite through our skills, talents, and time in the most impactful ways possible.”

The tone of Riot’s post struck ironic to some who feel that the company’s hardline stance on censoring all talk of politics in their broadcast is directly opposed to the sentiment expressed. Blizzard came under even heavier fire due to their actions against Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung last year who supported the Hong Kong protests on a tournament stream.

Other gaming companies of interest to esports also took big steps. Sony delayed releasing details about the PS5 on June 4 because they “do not feel that right now is a time of celebration.”

Humble Bundle also pledged $1 million dollars to a fund for promoting and publishing the work of Black game developers.

Twitch statement
Twitch's public statement.

Players use their platforms for the message

Esports players are known for being candid on their Twitter accounts, and many took the time to write out personal reflections about the protests, Black Lives Matter, and police brutality in general.

What happened and how to support

On May 25, George Floyd was apprehended by Officer Derik Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department after a shop owner claimed he tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill during a transaction. The officer used his knee to pin Floyd to the ground, and over the course of eight and a half minutes, slowly caused the man to asphyxiate. An independent examiner cited that the official cause of death was “asphyxiation from sustained pressure.” Three other officers were also on scene; as of now, only Chauvin has been officially charged with third-degree murder.

Many esports players have donated to the Minnesota Freedom Fund and the NAACP Legal Defense fund. You can find out more by visiting their websites.