North and South Carolina collegiate and professional sports organizations are taking a stance on racism following controversial comments made by CPI Security’s chief executive officer regarding police brutality against Black people. The Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, Charlotte Knights, North Carolina State University and the University of South Carolina are among the organizations that terminated partnerships with the Charlotte-based business.
The reaction stems from an open letter Jorge Millares, founder and president of Queen City Unity, sent an email to local leaders to end police brutality in the wake of recent deaths of unarmed Black people and consequent protests. In response, CPI Security president Ken Gill told Millares in part to “…spend his time in a more productive way” and to “focus on Black on Black crime.”
According to the security company’s website, CPI has donated to several law enforcement agencies in the Carolinas, including Raleigh Police Department, Durham Police Department and organizations affiliated with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Millares shared the email on social media and called for a boycott of CPI and specifically called out the Panthers and Hornets to consider severing ties.
Gill has since apologized, but it seems as if the damage is done. Here’s a list of CPI’s current state of sports partnerships:
- Charlotte Hornets – terminated
- Carolina Panthers – terminated
- Charlotte Knights – terminated
- Columbia Fireflies – terminated
- Durham Bulls – contract expired and will not renew
- North Carolina State University – terminated
- University of South Carolina – terminated
A broader look
Nearly 82% of NBA players and 70% of NFL players are people of color. Players from both leagues have increasingly used their platforms to express personal views on racial equality and social justice.
A June 4 social media video featured several star players — including Rock Hill native Stephon Gilmore — stating that Black lives matter. The following day, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell apologized for not listening to Black players about the subject.
Black athletes continue to voice their opinions on social issues affecting the Black community — holding league leaders and owners more accountable and expecting leadership to speak up.