Memphis Grizzles coach David Fizdale shared his perspective on last weekend’s white nationalist rally and subsequent domestic terrorism in Charlottesville in an interview today, condemning President Donald Trump’s response to the event and calling for Confederate memorials to be taken down.
The interview—part of the MLK50: Justice Through Journalism nonprofit project, which does reporting on economic and racial justice in Memphis a half-century after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination—was transcribed by the Memphis Commercial-Appeal and is worth a read in its entirety, but some highlights are below.
On Confederate statues, such as those of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis in Memphis:
“Take ‘em down. I don’t know what the hesitation is. I don’t know what we’re waiting on. Whatever gets those things down immediately, we got to do it. It splits people apart. It creates a public safety hazard having that thing in our city. The fact that Dr. King was killed here 50 years ago, and that the Civil Rights Museum sits here in our city, and for that to be out in the open, hanging out, where kids go, where families go, I don’t want that in our city anymore.
For that to sit out there in the wide open in our city, I think, is a disgrace. And to our public officials, I’m challenging you to not put a bunch of red tape in front of us. Don’t create all these silly loopholes and this and that. Take it down; get it out of our city; get it out of sight; and let our city moving forward and into the future and be an example to the rest of the country.”
On Trump’s comments about violence from an imaginary “alt-left” and the fact that there are “very fine people on both sides,” in a conversation where one side represents neo-Nazis:
“It’s disgusting (to equate the Nazi marchers with Black Lives Matter protesters). What are you talking about here? How can you even say that? You watch those people march up the street with their little — they’re so ridiculous looking with their tiki torches; they’ve actually got tiki torches; that says enough — but you see them marching up the street and what’s coming out of their mouths, and you tell me that they’re just there quietly protesting? And you’re telling me that there were some good people in that crowd?
You can’t say that.... And for (President Trump) to put those protesters that were there to stop them in the same boat as those awful, evil people that are there to just wreak havoc on that beautiful city...
If you put a Muslim in that car, what are you calling that person, right? You’re a terrorist. For this to happen and for our president to put that on the same level as people trying to fight hate and bigotry, peacefully, and standing up for their country and their city and saying this is not acceptable here, when our country went to war, and millions of people died from that war, and now you’re letting it happen on our streets? You can’t put that on the same level. For anyone who can sit there and defend [Trump’s] comments? You’re either stupid, honestly, you’re either just stupid or you’re sick. That’s how I’m looking at it. Sick, I mean you’re totally delusional in the mind. You’re totally like, there is something going on internally with you that’s not right. Because there’s no way you can listen to those comments, agree with what he said, and do it with a common sense logic. I’m sorry, there’s just no way I can see you saying that.”