A small number of protesters, wearing signs and shouting in megaphones, prevented at least two NBA-chartered buses from briefly entering the Walt Disney World campus on Saturday night. The group said LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and other top players should take note of the ride.
The group blocked charter buses with members of the news media and some NBA staff, but no players or team members. Among their chants: "Black Lives Matter" and "LeBron, can you help us?" Some also carried signs with messages like "Russell Stand With Us".
The protesters gathered near one of the entrances and were not in the so-called bubble, which teams, NBA staff and others have been in, in some cases, for more than two months for the season to resume. They appeared to have gathered on a street open to the public and then stopped buses on an access road near a main entrance to the resort.
All entrances to the bubble – whether it's the hotel properties or the arenas where games are played – are secured by law enforcement, security officials, or both.
It was not known if the protesters could be seen by any players. At least one of the buses carrying players from the Los Angeles Lakers-Houston Rockets game on Saturday night had left the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex before the first protest was noticed.
Bringing attention to racial inequality and police brutality was a top priority of the NBA restart for both the players and the league itself. Playoff games were suspended for three days last month in response to protests by the players against the Wisconsin police shooting of a black man. Dozens of gamers have rallied for justice in the case of Breonna Taylor – a 26-year-old black woman who was fatally shot when police officers broke into her home in Louisville, Kentucky with an arrest warrant during a drug investigation on March 13.
The group outside the Disney complex made it clear on Saturday through messages on some of the shirts and signs they were wearing that they were trying to raise awareness of the case of Salaythis Melvin, a black man who was fatally shot in the back of a deputy Orange County sheriffs last month. The sheriff's officials said Melvin was armed. His family lawyers said he did not threaten the MP concerned.
The mall where Melvin was shot is about 15 miles from the location of the NBA reboot.
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