'We need something positive': Teenagers take BASKETBALL HOOP to the streets to help ease tensions in Philadelphia (VIDEO)
Philadelphia basketball fan Stephania Ergemlidze used the power of sport to help find common ground amid the confrontation and anger in her home city – by taking a basketball hoop out onto the streets.
Ergemlidze and a group of friends took the basketball hoop out onto the streets of Philadelphia and invited passers-by to join them for a few shots to release the tension following the protests in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25.
Along with the hoop and a ball, the group brought a cardboard sign, fashioned from an old box, which carried a message of encouragement for members of the public to join them.
"I've always used basketball to try to bring people together!" the sign read.
"Today I feel is a day we need that the most! I have sanitizer, if you'd like."
Khalil Gardner is a part of a group dragging a basketball hoop around center city trying to get people to play to break the tension. pic.twitter.com/EA4Cwazpne— Nina Feldman (@ncannellf) June 2, 2020
Ergemlidze posted a video to her Instagram page to explain her "Basketball Peaceful Protest" as she said that her aim was to "peacefully bring our community together and spread love through basketball."
It seemed to have an effect, as a small crowd arrived to watch people taking shots at the hoop.
They even managed to encourage a police officer to take part by shooting a few hoops – after first being reminded by his colleagues to put his firearm away.
They convinced a cop to play - his colleagues had to remind him to put his gun away before he took some shots. A couple others yelled for him to stop. pic.twitter.com/TC3dqYRDP6— Nina Feldman (@ncannellf) June 2, 2020
If the goal was to break tension it seems to have worked pic.twitter.com/MacLUdUCSn— Nina Feldman (@ncannellf) June 2, 2020
They even had half an eye on the risks involved in playing street basketball during the coronavirus pandemic, as they also brought hand sanitizer with him so players could clean their hands – and they could clean the ball.
"I love you guys and my city too much and this is the best way I know how to bring people together," said Ergemlidze, who revealed that she will "try to organize some other cities as well."
The initiative was discovered on the streets by Philadelphia reporter Nina Feldman, who paid tribute not only to Ergemlidze's initiative, but also her basketball ability.
To all Khalil’s fans, the mastermind behind this project is Stephania Ergemlidze. I watched her school dude after dude one-on-one. Sorry I am just now giving her credit where credit’s due, just got home after a long one out there. pic.twitter.com/XLZomQupid— Nina Feldman (@ncannellf) June 3, 2020
"The mastermind behind this project is Stephania Ergemlidze," Feldman tweeted.
"I watched her school dude after dude one-on-one."Also on rt.com 'This is NOT what a leader looks like': NBA star Ben Simmons SLAMS Donald Trump as 'COWARDLY' after 'messages of hate'