Jared Kushner has weighed in on the NBA teams striking this week in response to the ongoing protests against police violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, saying that the players are “fortunate” that they can “take a night off from work.”
In response to the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, a Black man, on Sunday, and in solidarity with those who have protested in the days since, the Milwaukee Bucks walked out of their playoff game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday evening.
After the Bucks’ decision, the Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trailblazers games were postponed. WNBA teams also said they would not be playing on Wednesday. All three games in their league were canceled.
On CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday, Kushner was asked if the White House supports “the players and the owners in this case.”
“I think the NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they’re able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially. So, they have that luxury, which is great,” said Kushner, before adding: “With the NBA, there’s a lot of activism and I think that they put a lot of slogans out, but I think that we need to turn that from slogans and signals to actual action that’s gonna solve the problem.”
Kushner went on to cite President Donald Trump’s “record” of “historic criminal justice reform,” “fighting for school choice,” and “longterm funding” for historically Black colleges as ways the White House is promoting social justice.
“People don’t like seeing what’s happening in a lot of theses cities. ... We just have to take this conversation from an emotional one to a constructive one,” said Kushner.
Kushner also told Politico that he’d be reaching out to Lakers player LeBron James to discuss the protests. “I think that it’s nice that they’re standing up for the issue, but I’d like to see them start moving into concrete solutions that are productive. And again, President Trump in this White House is willing to work with them,” he said.
Kushner’s comment about NBA players having the “luxury” to not work for a night comes on the heels of an impassioned statement from Bucks guard Sterling Brown, who has himself been a victim of police brutality.
“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American community,” Brown said. “Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there have been no actions, so our focus cannot be on basketball.”
Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also commented on the NBA and Wisconsin’s response to racial inequality on Thursday morning. Short told CNN that the move from the basketball league is “absurd and silly.”
“If they want to protest, I don’t think we care,” he said.
Conway told Fox: “The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety, and law and order.”
Beyond basketball, two MLB teams — the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds — decided not to play their Wednesday evening game in a show of solidarity. The Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants followed suit.