Ex-Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers defender Nedum Onuoha has admitted he does not feel “100% safe” in the United States.
Onuoha has been playing for MLS side Real Salt Lake since 2018 and with widespread protests against police brutality taking place this week following the killing of George Floyd, the former England youth international has spoken candidly about his experiences of living in the US as a black man.
“I am always very wary of how I behave and how it could be viewed by people who have power,” Onuoha told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“For me personally, overall I don’t like to say it but I have a fear and distrust towards police.”
Police have been violently clashing with protestors in 75 different US cities since Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after being pinned down by white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin has been charged with murder, while three other police officers have been sacked.
And Onuoha has offered his support and solidarity to the Black Lives Matter protestors.
“It is emotional; it is something that is overdue to be honest,” said the 33-year-old.
“There has been a big wave of energy towards this, there has been a lot of talk about George Floyd – these issues have been around for decades.
“People have been trying to make noise. I have been trying to say things but it gets pushed away for too long. Enough is enough; what gives me strength is that it’s not just black people who are protesting now.
“The change will come but within that, there are so many nuanced things within the protest – for example, a lot of black people are scared to do what some of the white people are doing to the police.
“It’s crazy to see but it is very necessary. I am not going to say to them that they shouldn’t do anything because they haven’t been heard for this long so let them be heard now.”
Dozens of people have already been injured during the protests, with authorities using tear gas and force to disperse crowds of demonstrators.
And after President Donald Trump threatened to use the military to quell growing unrest, Onuoha believes that gun laws in the USA are also a big part of the problem.
“I have loved living in this country but there is [another] side of it,” he added.
“In the UK, I am more comfortable because if something happens it probably will not be deadly – but over here because of their rights it is more common that altercations become deadly. I am always very aware of that whenever I go around anywhere.
“I am comfortable but when it comes to any kind of brutality, if it’s from the police, if they read me the wrong way then my life could be taken. I feel that every single day. It is not just me but everybody else as well.
“I am not trying to be overly critical to the police, there are plenty of good police officers out there, but sometimes I feel like people put police on a pedestal and make them seem superhuman.
“But the fact is over here they are just people from society with a badge and a gun and a lot more power.
“If you worry about the man next door, why would you not worry about the person patrolling the streets who now has more power, more guns but the same views?
“I never go out and feel 100% safe.”