Former UFC star and current Bellator MMA fighter Leslie Smith has been advocating for MMA fighter unions for quite some time now, but she has also become involved in Black Lives Matter protests after the death of George Floyd.
Smith took part in a BLM protest a few weeks back and it was a situation that the MMA fighter is calling “intense.”
“I was in one of the protests in Oakland a couple of Fridays ago, and it was intense,” Smith told MMA Fighting. “It was pretty crazy. It was wonderful that there’s so many people out. It was planned to start at 8 p.m. at night, which for Oakland, I think that that is not a setup for a peaceful protest. I think that daylight hours in Oakland makes it more peaceful or increases the chances that it will be peaceful. So that one was at night time, and sure enough, the cops declared it an unlawful assembly and then started throwing tear gas and everybody kind of scattered. And then I saw a drive-by [shooting]. I’d kind of walked off on my own and was figuring out what to do next after the police started throwing the tear gas. Then a block away from me, I saw a van driving by with a door open and heard a bunch of gun shots, and then when I got to that corner, there’s a security guard who’s been shot. So then all the other security guards came around and they were all whipping out their guns and pointing it at everybody, so I took off. That was enough for me for one night. Too many guns for me.”
The Bellator MMA star isn’t the only MMA personality to protest after the death of George Floyd, as UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones, UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya, former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell, former two division UFC champion Conor McGregor have either protested or spoken out against Floyd’s death.
Everything didn’t end well for Smith while participating in the protest, as she would be arrested for civil disobedience.
“Just civil disobedience – they set a curfew, and then I decided to get arrested,” Smith said. “But it was with four 18- to 20-year-old girls that I got arrested with, and I have so much faith in the future. They were awesome, they were wonderful, and I’m so happy and proud that this next generation is stepping up in ways that the past generations really haven’t. I was out [from jail] pretty quickly. They said that they were not going to book us into the jail; they said that we were citation-only. They took their time, though. They put us inside of a van for a little while, then they transported us, then they left us there for a little while, and then they transported us to the jail, and then they left us there for a little while. It was about 2 o’clock [in the morning] when I got out.”
There is no word yet as to when Smith, who hasn’t competed since Bellator 233, will compete again.