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Past, present and future Gonzaga players speaking up against racial injustice

UPDATED: Tue., June 9, 2020

Gonzaga guard Geno Crandall  (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Gonzaga guard Geno Crandall (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Former Gonzaga guard Geno Crandall and future Zag Jalen Suggs volunteered over the weekend, collecting and distributing supplies in their communities in the Minneapolis area.

Ex-GU point guard Nigel Williams-Goss took a microphone and spoke out against police brutality and racial injustice at a protest near the state Capitol building in Salt Lake City.

Gonzaga women’s basketball coach Lisa Fortier participated in protest marches each of the past two weekends in Spokane. Incoming freshman men’s basketball player Julian Strawther recently posted a picture on social media wearing an I CAN’T BREATHE T-shirt captioned “enough is enough.”

Former, current and future Zags are making their voices heard, demanding change as protests nationwide continue following George Floyd’s death on May 25. Former police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers at the scene also are facing charges.

Suggs volunteered at a collection drive last weekend in St. Paul to assist people in need of supplies.

“The thing that really got me going to get out here was just to show my support and to show that I’m fully behind my Black community and the rec center community that’s out here protesting with us,” Suggs told Minneapolis-St. Paul TV station KSTP.

Crandall, a Minneapolis native who played professionally in the Czech Republic last year after one season as a grad transfer at Gonzaga in 2019, helped organize a three-day Essential Needs Give Back event in north Minneapolis.

“Back at it again today from 1-7 pm!” Crandall tweeted Sunday with a video showing tables full of donated goods. “We’ve been receiving a crazy amount of donations and still got an insane amount of stuff left to give out so if you or anyone you know needs it send ’em our way!”

Williams-Goss, who helped lead Gonzaga to the 2017 national championship game and has split time this season between the Utah Jazz and the franchise’s G League affiliate, didn’t mention his playing career while addressing a crowd of roughly 2,000.

“I don’t think that all cops are bad. I don’t think the whole system is wrong,” Williams-Goss said during a 5-minute video posted on KSL.com, “but I do agree that there are police that need to be held accountable, I do agree that our system is not right.”

Williams-Goss said changes need to occur inside police departments and beyond.

“Ahmaud Arbery was not killed by the police,” the former Zag said of the 25-year-old man shot and killed while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood. “He was gunned down on film running down the street. That had nothing to do with the police. Are the police a problem? Yes, but again it goes so much further.

“What I am advocating for is accountability,” Williams-Goss added. “And not just accountability with a certain race, not accountability with a certain gender. Accountability for everybody, including the police.”

Suggs, the highest-ranked recruit in program history, is expected to arrive in Spokane next week.

“I’ve had to stay off social media a couple days just because it’s been hard to look at all the videos and photos that are popping up,” Suggs said. “But it just really shows that people are tired and people are ready for a change. It’s hard to keep turning the other cheek for years and time after time again.

“Now, it was just a breaking point. We’re just getting to the point now where people are starting to realize this is a bigger issue than people thought it was. … This has been a really trying time, but I think it’s very much needed.”

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