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Tennis Star James Blake Recalls Experience with Police Brutality in a Case of Mistaken Identity

Junie Sihlangu
Jun 21, 2020
08:00 A.M.

Last week, former tennis player James Blake featured on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” He confessed how he had personally experienced police brutality because of the color of his skin.


Blake was remotely interviewed by Jimmy Fallon for his talk show. While discussing the current unrest in America with protests over police brutality and systemic racism, the athlete opened up about his own personal traumatic ordeal.

Blake recalled how he faced police brutality in 2015 when he was in New York for the US Open. Sharing with Fallon, the star revealed how the incident happened while he was waiting for a car to take him to the Open.

Jimmy Fallon at "The Tonight Show" on January 28, 2020 | Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Jimmy Fallon at "The Tonight Show" on January 28, 2020 | Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images


He was waiting outside his hotel “when an officer ran up and just ran into me, slammed me into the wall and threw me on the ground, and cuffed me.” The officer held him down with his face “in the pavement and he put his knee in my back and was cuffing me."


The policeman shouted at the athlete saying: “‘Shut your mouth. Put your arms back.'" Blake ended up sitting in police custody for around 10 to 15 minutes.


He was told he looked like a suspect that was wanted for a credit card scam. “Nothing violent. No reason, in my opinion, to necessarily tackle someone," Blake shared with the talk show host.


While being detained, the star recalled past conversations he’d had with his father about what to do when confronted by the police. He remembered saying to the policeman: “‘I'm complying 100%. Whatever you say, I'm complying 100%.'”


The athlete was trying to avoid becoming another statistic as, at that time, there were already many cases of police brutality against Black men and women. He shared his saddens at the double standards Black men have to face in the country.


Even after it was discovered that Blake wasn’t the right suspect, the policeman never apologized to him. The star received an apology from New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and from the police commissioner.



The athlete tried to get some justice by going after the officer for two years. However, the policeman just lost five vacation days for the incident, which happened to be his fifth one.


In one of the other incidents, which were all against Black men, the officer broke the person’s jaw and was docked for five days again. Blake explained how the authorities said he couldn’t be fired.




The star realized how he only got something to happen to the policeman only because of his stardom. Nothing would’ve happened with his incident because the officer hadn’t filed a report.


Unrest has gripped the US since the death of George Floyd, 46, a Minneapolis man. The Black victim died while in police custody.


In reaction to his brutal killing, protests led by the Black Lives Matter movement have sparked across the country. Many celebrities have donated to the movement and spoken up to show solidarity.

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