Why Black Lives Matter campaign is so crucial for Huddersfield Giants’ Jordan Turner

HUDDERSFIELD Giants star Jordan Turner last night opened up on the racist incidents experienced throughout his life and “shock” at how some people in rugby league have reacted to Black Lives Matter protests.

The Oldham-born Jamaican international, who won the 2014 Grand Final with St Helens and is now in his fourth season at Huddersfield, is not surprised matters have “escalated”.

Sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US, thousands have joined anti-racism demonstrations across the UK.

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The 46-year-old black man, who was unarmed and in handcuffs, died last month after a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

However, in an exclusive interview with The Yorkshire Post, Turner said: “The death of George Floyd is nothing new.

“Police brutality of black people is nothing new. It’s just being recorded more. Black people have been oppressed for hundreds of years and are tired; that is why we are seeing the reactions we are seeing.

“A lot of people have had experiences with racism and now that some have decided to stand up, others have had the courage to stand up, too. There have been protests for years yet not a lot has changed. The situation is bound to escalate if the same things keep happening.”

The 31-year-old centre thanked The Yorkshire Post for approaching him to talk about such matters given he has this week decided to step back from social media believing it is not the right platform to express his thoughts.

CHANGE THINKING: Huddersfield Giants' Jordan Turner. Picture Tony Johnson.

Asked about the subject of institutional racism, Turner said: “I have experienced racism on all different scales – from people using derogatory words, incidents with the police, opinions on me in the rugby league world and being refused entry from a night club because I’m big and black.

“The police have stopped me numerous times whilst driving my car for no apparent reason, the last incident only being in 2018 when I was followed – ironically right outside (Huddersfield’s) John Smith’s Stadium – by a police car.

“There also was a time when my mum wouldn’t come to watch me play as she couldn’t handle the racist remarks directed at me from the stand. There are a lot of (such) stories.”

Former England Knights international Turner started his career at Salford City Reds before moving to Hull FC for a three-year stint between 2010 and 2012.

People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest rally at the US Embassy, London on Sunday in in memory of George Floyd who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in Minneapolis . Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA

After success at Saints, he briefly switched to the NRL with Canberra Raiders before moving to Huddersfield in 2017.

Father-of-two Turner admits he has been surprised by the reactions of some people he knows.

“This is the very reason I have decided not to go on my social media for a while,” he added.

“Whilst I’m very aware that there are plenty of racists around, I’m shocked at some peoples’ responses inside and outside of rugby league that wouldn’t consider themselves to be racist.

EDUCATION IS KEY: Huddersfield Giants' Jordan Turner. Picture Tony Johnson.

“One well-known person in the game expressed via social media ‘taser them all’ in reference to protests in London.

“That’s just one. I have seen a lot more. They will always struggle to understand because they will never have been judged by the colour of their skin.

“Some have been so ignorant to think that the protests are just because of George Floyd and don’t understand why people in their own country are protesting.

“Racism has been a global pandemic since history books began.

“People are so easily manipulated by what they see on their social media and only see part of – not all – the full picture.

“On the other hand I commend how the majority of people have reacted and I think a lot of others may have changed the way they think; the world needs more people like this.”

People take part in a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, in memory of George Floyd who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in Minneapolis. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA

Turner has not given up hope that attitudes can change.

“I’d like people not to be so easily manipulated by the mainstream media, other outlets and certain people who have an agenda,” he continued.

“Just change the way you think; if you don’t understand then just try to understand. It might not happen overnight.

“I’d like more people to educate themselves properly on subjects such as racism and history as a lot has been hidden from them.

“I feel years of lies, deceit and manipulation has led to the world we live in today.

“But with the right education in schools it doesn’t have to be like that for the next generation.”

Rugby league has been out of action since mid-March but hopes to resume in August.

Giants won four of their opening five games and Turner admitted: “It’s exciting we are finally getting back. There’s a big hole in the lives of rugby league people at the minute and I’m one of them.

“I can’t wait to get back with team-mates, staff and also interacting with fans. I hope we can get back to playing in front of crowds as soon as possible.

“It could actually turn out to be one of the most exciting seasons to date; a lot of fresh bodies and fresh minds makes for a spectacle in my opinion.”

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