CNN anchor Don Lemon calls out Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Drake and more over George Floyd protests

CNN anchor Don Lemon calls out Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Drake and more over George Floyd protests thumbnail

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CNN anchor Don Lemon has called on celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Drake and others who are “sitting in your mansions and doing nothing” amidst the George Floyd protests in America.

In an impassioned speech, Lemon called for Hollywood’s elite and the wealthiest people in the world to speak up for “these young people who have put themselves on the line” and urged them to have “stop worrying about your reputation and your brand.”

Lemon said prominent Hollywood figures had been “strangely silent” and revealed that a number of unnamed individuals had declined to appear on CNN to talk about the ongoing protests.

He said, “A lot of people I asked to come on this show to talk about this, wealthy celebrities, wealthy political people. [They said] ‘I can’t do it. I’m mad, I don’t want people to see me mad - it might hurt my business.’ Or, ‘I’m so upset I had to go to my country house and I just can’t do it.'” 

“Where are you?” Lemon asked, “Why aren’t you fighting for these young people? If you don’t do it now, when are you going to do it? If you are a millionaire or a gazillionaire or a movie star or a politician and you don't step up now, when the hell are you going to do it?”

    (Getty Images)

Lemon then specifically asked a number of celebrities to use their “visibility”, though apologised in advance if they had in fact openly spoken out or acted in response to the protests. It is not known if the specific celebrities mentioned had turned down CNN’s requests to appear on the channel.

He said, “By me calling out your name, that doesn’t mean I’m calling you out. It means I love you, Ellen [DeGeneres]. It means I love you, Oprah. I know they give millions of dollars to charity every year. But I need your visibility in helping speak out for these people, these young kids.”

“I want to see you Tracee Ellis Ross. I want to see you Tyler Perry. I want to see you Drake... I want to see you my friend, Anthony Anderson. I love you … I want to see Diddy out there. I want to see you Jane Fonda, who I love and respect,” he continued

He also said, “You can be mad at me all you want. You’re sitting there and you’re watching TV and you’re bing about it and you’re saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m watching this. What is going on?’ Stop texting me and asking me, ‘Oh my gosh Don, what is happening to our country?’ Stop tweeting me.”

“Do something and help these young people instead of sitting in your mansions and doing nothing. Have some moral courage and stop worrying about your reputation and your brand,” he continued.

Many of the celebrities mentioned by Lemon have since responded on the protests. Lifelong activist Jane Fonda appeared on CNN to speak with Lemon yesterday via video call, discussing the protests and white privilege with the anchor.

Twitter users also noted that Fonda was dressed in an all-black outfit, with some likening the choice to the Black Panther movement, and she has also penned a blog post titled ‘George Floyd: A Centuries Old History’ in which she said her “heart breaks for what’s happening.” 

Yesterday, DeGeneres also tweeted that she supports “the protestors who are exercising their rights and standing up against the horrible injustices that Black people in America face everyday” - adding that she would be donating to a number of organisations including the NAACP Legal Defence Fund, Black Lives Matter and more.

Over the days prior, she also retweeted a statement from former President Barack Obama and Stephen Boss though the tweet marked her first personal statement. 

Previously, Tyler Perry publicly asked those in Atlanta to “please stop the violence”, adding, “Looting is NOT THE ANSWER!!!” while Drake posted a poem to Instagram captioned “rest in heaven George Floyd.”

Lemon’s speech criticised wealthy individuals who were afraid of speaking up, out of fear that it would damage their public image.

He said, “Stop making excuses. What are you worried about if you have made gazillions of dollars and you are rich and you are established? Why are you afraid of what someone else is going to think about you and your anger? That it’s going to hurt your business or your reputation or - I hate this word, it drives me crazy - your ‘brand’?”

“You are your brand. Step up, people. Step up black Hollywood. Come on, get out there - come on CNN or wherever, I don’t care where you go...but get out there and talk about this.”

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        George Floyd Protests - In pictures

The recent surge of protests in the US followed the death of George Floyd in police custody, which prompted international outrage after a video of a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck was circulated on social media.

Protestors have called for the four officers featured in the video to be held accountable, which has led to to a third-degree murder and manslaughter charge for Derek Chauvin and the firing of all four individuals from the police force. 

The protests have continued to spread throughout the United States amidst a surge of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, however, incidents of violence and looting have been reported - leading notable politicians and celebrities to call for an end to the violence.

    , <br>Evening Standard

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