SAN ANTONIO – Gregg Popovich spoke Wednesday to reporters for the first time since former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts for George Floyd’s murder last May, and also used the media session to blast police unions across the country.
The ever outspoken Popovich was reflective when discussing the tension and anxiety many people felt ahead of the verdict being read from a Minneapolis courtroom.
“All of us had nervous bellies and you think about what’s going on in the past and how little accountability there has been over the years, so you’re cautiously optimistic that some form of justice might happen. But you’re not totally confident. I think that’s if you’re a white person.
“People of color, I have to believe had even more nervous moments and anxiety and probably doubt about what was going to happen because of the past. So when the verdicts came down, you saw the joy just kind of explode in people,” Popovich said.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spoke today about the Derek Chauvin conviction in the murder of George Floyd:— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) April 21, 2021
"It's a time to understand that was maybe a victory in a war that's got to continue to be waged with a sense of demanding equality, and justice and rights." (Part 1) pic.twitter.com/8aF4dMcYJ6
The Spurs head coach continued by saying there has to be a continued effort to demand equality and justice.
“I had a friend who said to me, ‘It’s a relief for all of us that it seems like a bit of justice has been done, but imagine being a 70-, 80-, 90-year-old black person who’s seen so much ugly in their lives in every way, shape and form, socially, economically, etc. And then add COVID on top of it, to see all the disparities. What a joy it had to be for someone like that to see this outcome in this trial.
“I think it’s a time to understand that was maybe a victory in a war that’s got to continue to be waged with a sense of demanding equality and justice and rights because it hasn’t happened yet,” Popovich said.
Popovich added that he was “thrilled for George Floyd’s family, but he’s still not with us, and it’s because of the culture,” referring to the structure of police unions and officer disciplinary protections across the country.
“Police unions use power in a way that does not protect and serve in many cases and the power has to be taken away as much as possible just like with the NRA. We can’t believe and deal with the tactics they’ve used over the years.
“Calling out defunding is deceptive. It’s a lie. I think that more than anything, we have to remember to be on guard, to call it out, that justice has not been realized yet,” Popovich said.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he if FOR the passing of Proposition B which was put on the May 1 ballot by @fixsapd.— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) April 21, 2021
"An organization that seeks as little accountability as possible should be a problem. Proposition B is the first step." #KSATnews #KSATsports pic.twitter.com/BLcOWklCqN
The Spurs head coach was then asked whether he was in favor of Proposition B, which is on the May 1 ballot in San Antonio and would cause the San Antonio Police Officers Association to lose their capacity to collective bargaining with the City of San Antonio.
“Proposition B looks like a step in the right direction so a yes vote on that I think is prudent, but it doesn’t get you where you need to be. We’re one of the few cities in Texas that still has collective bargaining.
“We have to go further. People can’t be intimidated. There has to be accountability in police unions’ work. An organization that seeks as little accountability as possible should be a problem. There’s a reason for seeking is little accountability as possible, and that’s not good. We need to go further and hopefully that can happen in negotiations, but Proposition B is the first step,” Popovich said.
In a news release responding to Popovich’s comments, the police union said the legendary coach “threw a brick” on Prop B.
“Prop. B is not about discipline, it’s about repealing collective bargaining, which is what ensures our police officers have the same say in their pay, benefits, and working conditions that other groups of employees have like firefighters, and yes, basketball players, who collectively bargain with the NBA through their National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), a process which I’m sure you support,” San Antonio Police Officers Association President Danny Diaz wrote.
Diaz agreed that accountability was an important issue, but said that the union is working on addressing discipline issues at the barganing table with the city.
“Please keep in mind that it’s our (collective bargaining agreement) that has kept politics out of the discipline process,” Diaz wrote. “Pass Prop. B and politics automatically returns to the equation.”
The KSAT Explains team did a full episode on what Proposition B means for the city, the union and citizens. You can watch the full episode below.