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2 Jun, 2020 12:16

'Weak and meaningless': Tiger Woods criticized for aiming message at protesters rather than police amid George Floyd protests

'Weak and meaningless': Tiger Woods criticized for aiming message at protesters rather than police amid George Floyd protests

Golfer Tiger Woods and NBA icon Michael Jordan have both broken their silences on the police violence that led to George Floyd's death in the US, earning a mixed response after calling for political pressure and an end to looting.

Woods watched the Los Angeles riots near his home in Southern California as a promising teenage golfer in 1992, witnessing looting, violence and protests following a brutal police attack on construction worker and activist Rodney King.

He went on to become the first black man to win the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, where blacks were once excluded, and has said that his "heart goes out" to the family of George Floyd, who died after a police officer held his knee on his neck in a violent arrest on May 25.

“I have always had the utmost respect for our law enforcement,” said Woods, who has played golf with embattled US president Donald Trump as part of a relationship that began before the billionaire came to power.

“They train so diligently to understand how, when and where to use force. This shocking tragedy clearly crossed that line.

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"We can make our points without burning the very neighborhoods that we live in. I hope that through constructive, honest conversations we can build a safer, unified society."

Six-time NBA champion Jordan had earlier called on the public to vote for "systemic change" in this year's presidential elections and put pressure on leaders to "change our laws", adding that he was "deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry."

"I see and feel everyone’s pain, outrage and frustration," added the Charlotte Hornets owner. "I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough.

"We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability. Every one of us needs to be part of the solution, and we must work together to ensure justice for all."

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Sponsors Nike, who issued an anti-racism advert last week, replied to Jordan's announcement with a message of support, but his words provoked a mixture of praise and criticism on social media, with some fans thanking him for exercising his influence while others suggested he had taken too long to speak out.

Woods's sentiments received an even more divided reception. "I loved [Jordan's] statement yesterday which struck both an empathetic chord with a very strong enough," wrote one follower, calling his statement "weak and meaningless".

Others told Woods to denounce Trump and questioned why he had taken a week to make his opinions publicly known following the death of Floyd, which has seen the president threaten to deploy the army amid escalating anger and scenes of violence in some states.

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