"Where are you? Where is our leader?" he asks.

By Nick Romano
June 04, 2020 at 08:51 AM EDT
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Dwayne Johnson rarely wades into political discourse, beyond his musings about running for president. That changed this week when the actor and former WWE star called out President Donald Trump without mentioning him by name in a video message supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

"Where are you? Where is our leader? Where are you?" he began. "Where is our leader at this time? This time where our country is down on its knees, begging, pleading, hurt, angry, frustrated, in pain, begging and pleading with its arms out, just wanting to be heard, begging and pleading and praying for change. Where are you?"

Johnson continues to repeat, "Where are you?" in the video that runs eight minutes, 25 seconds. George Floyd, the 46-year-old Minneapolis resident whose death refueled nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, was killed after a local police officer pressed his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. That officer, Derek Chauvin, is now in custody on charges of second-degree murder. The three other officers who were on the scene at the time of Floyd's killing were also taken into custody on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

"Where is our compassionate leader," Johnson continued, "who’s going to step up to our country, who’s down on its knees, and extend a hand and say, ‘You stand up, stand up with me because I got you. I hear you, I’m listening to you. And you have my word that I’m going to do everything in my power, until my dying day, my last breath, to do everything I can to create the change that is needed, to normalize equality because Black lives matter'? Where are you?"

In response to the protests and subsequent riots in light of police brutality against demonstrators, Trump's incendiary remarks on Twitter, television, and on calls with governors only seemed to fuel the growing unrest. In various instances, he called himself the president of "law and order"; he tweeted "when the looting starts, the shooting starts"; and on a call with state governors, he called for military action to "dominate" protestors. In one of the more egregious acts, police dispersed peaceful protestors outside the White House so that Trump could walk to St. John's church and pose for a photo op. Trump later denied tear gas was used despite numerous videos filmed on the scene showing a chemical irritant shot into crowds.

Johnson also mentioned the All Lives Matter slogan, saying, "Of course, all lives matter, but in this moment right now, this defining, pivotal, explosive moment where our country is down on its knees… we must say the words: Black lives matter."

"I’ll tell you what, we’re here. We’re all here," he said later in the video. "The process to change has already begun. You can feel it across our country. Change is happening. It’s going to take time. We’re going to get beat up. We’re going to take our lumps. There’s going to be blood, but the process of change has already begun."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.

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