“I don’t have all the answers but I know that I am in a position where I can influence and bring about the positive change that we all know we need,” he said.
Elimimian, who also serves as the CFL Players’ Association president, is doing his part to combat racial injustice. He recently wrote a letter to all of his fellow players, sharing his story about one night as a teenager growing up in Los Angeles.
“We were just riding around, not doing anything, and we get pulled over,” Elimimian recalled. “Guns are drawn at us. We were roughed up. We were handcuffed. We sat on the sidewalk and they searched the car.
“And I’m just sitting here shaking my head and the only explanation that we were given was we fit the description of a crime that was committed.”
In fact, that wasn’t the only time Elimimian said he had to go through something like that.
“I remember I had a hoodie on and I’m walking home, five houses away from my home, and I get pulled over, I get frisked, handcuffed and once again ‘fit the description of a crime’ and I guess internally you think it’s normal. You think, ‘OK, you know what, this is how it is, right,’” said Elimimian.
Those interactions are what Elimimian is hoping to change after he says it made him develop a mistrust of police officers.
It wasn’t until he went to the University of Hawaii and subsequently to Canada to play in the CFL that his mindset about law enforcement changed.
Now, the recent death of George Floyd, who died in police custody after a white police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck, has sparked many, including Elimimian, to speak out.
“Things like that in our society happens, that shouldn’t happen,” he said. “I think the more we can spread awareness and the more that people can share their stories, it’s empathy and that’ll force people to say, ‘How can I help?’”
Elimimian is not only sharing his story, but he is also hoping to partner with the CFL to develop a program to help encourage that change, similar to the league’s violence against women and anti-bullying campaigns.
“People of all races are saying, ‘No more, this is not right,’” said Elimimian. “It’s something we’ve dealt with for years, centuries, but it’s time for change and I’m hoping that this generation can be the catalyst to change that and I feel like we all have a part to play.”