Robert Covington Details Police Harassment, Racial Profiling Incident

Michael Shapiro

Robert Covington has been active in his social justice work throughout the NBA's COVID-19 hiatus, spending significant time cleaning up streets in Nashville following protests at the end of May. The Rockets forward detailed his work in Nashville on Friday, noting the importance of helping out in the community.

"I’m just trying to do what I can in my second home in Nashville," Covington told the media in a Zoom call. "A couple guys I’m working out with, we all came together and put together a plan to let people understand rioting isn’t the way to make a change. Everyone has to live here, we don’t want to see those things. We want to see peaceful protests, things that people have been doing."

Covington said he was compelled to participate in social justice work due to previous experiences with police. The seven-year veteran detailed an incident of harassment when he was in middle school upon speaking with the media on Friday. 

"I basically had a cop falsely detain me. He took me and my cousin off our home property–we were sitting on our front porch–and he told us to come to his car because two other kids were disrespecting a man’s yard," Covington said. "Another two police cars came up and arrested us for playing football in the street and being on another man’s property. But the man came out and told [the officers] that we weren’t bothering him, that we were fine. The cop didn’t care. He arrested all of us, put us in backup cars and took us down to the station."

Covington said he got his foot stuck in the police car on account of his height. He noted the issue to the officer, who replied "if you don’t get out of this car I’ll break your leg so you get out of this car."

Houston's forward said he was ultimately able to exit the car, but his detainment continued for multiple hours. His grandfather came to the police station as Covington's dad and mom were working, but Covington was not released until his godmother also came down to the station. 

Covington noted the aforementioned incident wasn't his only negative interaction with an officer. And as the problem of police brutality and harassment continues across the United States, Covington stressed the need for social justice reform.

"It's time for us to make a change for what is right," Covington said. "Racism is not a color. It's just racist, period. It's what's right and what's wrong. I'm going to try to help people have a voice and make a change."

Covington was traded to the Rockets from the Timberwolves on Feb. 4. He averaged 12.8 points and 32.6 minutes per game in his first 14 contests with Houston before the COVID-19 hiatus.