Civil rights group asks NBA to suspend Cavs minority owner over threatening messages of gun violence to pro-Palestine group

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Cleveland Cavaliers minority owner Gary Gilbert, who is also the brother of Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert, is mixed up in some controversy after sending heated messages to a pro-Palestine group.

After learning of a pro-Israel movie showing that was set to take place in Los Angeles, a pro-Palestine group began to organize a protest at the venue of the screening.

In response, Gary Gilbert sent messages to the group organizing the protest.

Gary Gilbert

Meanwhile, CNN has obtained a letter sent from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) to the NBA’s Adam Silver, with the ADC requesting a meeting with the league commissioner and demanding an immediate suspension of Gary Gilbert.

“We are requesting a meeting with you to discuss the ways that you and your team will ensure that hate and bigotry against our community finds no home in the NBA,” wrote Abed Ayoub, the executive director of the organization, in a letter to the commissioner.

“We demand that [Gary] Gilbert be immediately suspended from all NBA arenas for the safety of Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim fans.”

Gary Gilbert did not attend the film screening in question. In a statement to CNN, he admitted to sending the messages.

“During a time of significant emotional distress, and fear over the rise in hate, I made a shorthand comment on social media that unfortunately was misconstrued,” he said in the statement. “When I said we were ‘armed and ready’ I meant we were ready in terms of having local police present to ensure everyone’s safety, following violent protests the day before that resulted in the death of Paul Kessler.”

Kessler was a 69-year-old Jewish man who died after falling and hitting his head during dueling rallies in California, according to law enforcement.

CNN shared more information about Gary Gilbert’s situation.

“The Cleveland Cavaliers said in statement to CNN that [Gary] Gilbert is a ‘very small passive investor’ in the team and his posts ‘do not represent the views of the team, ownership group or management,’ wrote CNN’s Dianne Gallagher.

“NBA spokesman Mike Bass told CNN the league has been in contact with both the Cavaliers and the ADC.

“Gilbert told CNN he does not condone violence.

“‘Violence and hate in any form is abhorrent to me. Social media is too divisive, and not constructive for these conversations. What is most important to me is the safety and security of everyone in our community,’ he said in the statement.”

Ayoub of the ADC said his organization feels that the NBA should handle the Gary Gilbert situation in the same way it approached the Donald Sterling controversy years ago, when the former Los Angeles Clippers owner was banned from the league for life for making racist remarks.

“The NBA must initiate the process to force Mr. [Gary] Gilbert to sell his stake of ownership in the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Ayoub wrote in his letter. “Finally, we ask that the NBA releases a statement making it clear that there is no place in the League for anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic hate.”

The Cavs used a statement to express that they are “unwavering in our mission and commitment to a culture of diversity, inclusion and respect within our organization and community.”

The conflict between Israel and Palestine remains a controversial and nuanced topic that has dominated headlines lately. The Cleveland organization likely didn’t expect to be involved in this manner but will now have to monitor the Gary Gilbert situation to see what happens next.

The Cavs are in the midst of their 2023-24 NBA season and evidently have some matters to tend to both on and off the floor.

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Jason has covered the NBA for multiple years and is very excited about the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers.