James Blake, a former professional tennis player who made headlines last year when New York police tackled him to the ground, is speaking out in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It’s long overdue,” he said Monday on CNN’s “New Day.”
Though he is not directly involved with the movement, he calls himself “a supporter from afar.” He said the recent protests over the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling are “a positive step.”
Blake is less enthusiastic about former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who called the movement “inherently racist.”
“It’s just shocking that someone that’s ever held public office or that’s gotten anywhere he has gotten in his life can have that kind of view on it,” he says.
Blake’s firsthand understanding of the meaning behind the movement does not just come from last year’s case. A board investigating that incident determined that police used excessive force.
As a young athlete, he says he was pulled over far more than his white friends. His parents received death threats as he became successful on the tennis tour.
Moving forward, Blake calls for better training and accountability for police officers.
“There shouldn’t be a way of shielding them because they’re police officers,” he said. “They’re still human beings, and if they commit a crime, they still need to be held accountable.”