A spectator at the Washington Wizards’ exhibition game versus the Guangzhou Long-Lions reacted to having security take away his pro-Hong Kong signage.
Jon Schweppe told “Tucker Carlson Tonight” the NBA regularly allows its players to take politcal stances, but would not allow any free expression against the Chinese government in this particular case.
“I think it was done by someone up top,” he said of the decision to take the signs. “They don’t want to talk about it,” he said of Beijing’s alleged human rights abuses. “They’re afraid to upset their bottom line with China.”
During the interview, host Tucker Carlson wondered aloud how free expression could be restricted in Washington of all places.
“This is in the nation’s capital… and you can’t protest mainland China — in the capital of the United States,” Carlson said.
Schweppe agreed with the sentiment, pointing to the NBA previously pulling its All-Star Game out of North Carolina amid the battle over Raleigh’s transgender bathroom law.
He also recalled his interaction with security at the Capital One Arena in downtown Washington.
Schweppe claimed security guards were talking to each other when he and his friends unveiled their first banner, and then took action when a second sign was taken out.
During the interview, Carlson played video from Schweppe, which showed part of their interaction with security.
“What is the reasoning?” a man is heard asking when a security guard tells him he wants to take away the banner.
“It’s Capital One Arena, we understand — we respect your freedom of speech,” the guard said. “We are just personally not having — we don’t have any stance on it, so we’re just asking any signed related to that not be in here tonight.”
At the game, after the Chinese national anthem was played, one person shouted: “Freedom of expression! Freedom of speech! Free Hong Kong!” A second person also shouted for a free Hong Kong from the second level during the second quarter of the contest.
Security guards at the Capital One Arena then confronted a fan holding up a “Free Tibet” sign and another holding up the Tibet flag. Security tried to take the sign, but the fan resisted and they walked away from their seats and were followed by security.