Black Hebrew Israelite group continues protest outside Nets game at Barclays Center

A group of Black Hebrew Israelites protest outside Barclays Center in support of Kyrie Irving on Nov. 20.
Photo Credit: Christian Arnold

For the second straight game at Barclays Center, a Black Hebrew Israelite group protested ahead of the Nets showdown with the Memphis Grizzlies Sunday night. The group was there in support of Kyrie Irving, who was coming back from what had been an eight-game suspension handed down by the Nets. 

The group, which was wearing shirts with the name Israel United in Christ, stood near the top of the Atlantic Avenue subway entrance with a large group as they preached their message over a portable sound system. Other members stretched a large swath of the arena on both the Atlantic Avenue side of Barclays Center and the Flatbush Avenue side of the building handing out literature. 

The size of the group outside the arena was significantly larger than the one that had been there during the Nets’ home game against the New York Knicks on Nov. 9.  

Members of a Black Hebrew Israelites group walk outside Barclays Center on Nov. 20. Photo Credit: Christian Arnold

Sunday night marked the first game that Irving had been back since the team suspended him on Nov. 3 for failing to unequivocally denounce antisemitism. The Nets star had ignited a firestorm after he shared an Amazon link to a film filled with antisemitic tropes. 

Irving faced growing backlash from outside groups during the controversy and Nike suspended its relationship with the basketball star over it. A man was seen standing outside the entrance for ticketed fans to go through holding a sign that read “BOYCOTT NIKE.” 

An individual holds a “BOYCOTT NIKE” sign outside of Barclays Center on Nov. 20.Photo Credit: Christian Arnold

The individual appeared to be separate from the group of Black Hebrew Israelites. 

Images of the scene outside Barclays Center circulated social media in the hours prior to tip-off of Sunday’s game and Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown quote tweeted a video from outside the arena with the caption “energy.” 

According to the Anti-Defamation League, “the Black Hebrew Israelite movement is a fringe religious movement that rejects widely accepted definitions of Judaism and asserts that people of color are the true children of Israel.” The ideology was at the heart of the film that Irving had shared, which started the controversy. 

Irving apologized on Sunday morning after team shootaround at the Nets’ practice facility in Sunset Park. 

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“I just want to offer my deep apologies to all those who were impacted over these last few weeks,” Irving said. “All races and cultures, I feel like we all feel the impact and I don’t stand for anything close to hate speech or antisemitism or anything that is anti-going against the human race. … I feel like it was necessary for me to stand in this place and take accountability for my actions because there was a way I should have handled all of this.

“As I look back and reflect on when I had the opportunity to offer my deep regrets to anyone that felt threatened or felt hurt over what I posted. That wasn’t my intent at all, I meant no harm to any person or any group of people.”

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