By Jai Bednall for news.com.au

Athletes have taken part in peaceful protests, helped clean graffiti and continued to speak out as the angry reaction to George Floyd's death divides America.

A video of Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck in the final moments of his life, has placed the country's racism issues firmly on the agenda.

The circumstances surrounding Floyd's death, which has led to violent clashes with police, looting and vandalism in countless American cities, has prompted the biggest names in US sport to speak up.

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Michael Jordan joined the chorus on Monday morning, releasing a statement where he said he was "plain angry".

The past week has also put the plight of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick back up in lights.

Kaepernick became an outcast after protesting against police violence against the black community by kneeling during national anthems in 2016 and the Houston Chronicle is one of many publications pondering how the country could have responded differently in light of recent events.

"Imagine. If we had embraced Colin Kaepernick's peaceful protest and paid attention to the issue he was trying to address.

"Imagine. We could be working toward change instead of witnessing the chaos, anger and violence in our streets.

"Imagine. Because this was exactly what Kaepernick was protesting. Not the anthem. Not the flag. Not the military. But unchecked police brutality against people of colour like George Floyd in our country. Imagine."

If that was the most powerful front page over the weekend, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar op-ed for the Los Angeles Times was the most moving article.

The LA Lakers champion explained why there'd been such an angry reaction to Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

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"Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts. I don't want to see stores looted or even buildings burn," the six-time champion wrote.

"But African-Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you're choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it's everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it's always still in the air."

A day after NBA stars Jaylen Brown and Malcolm Brogdon joined peaceful protests in Atlanta, Spurs guard Lonnie Walker hit the streets of San Antonio to hand out water to volunteers who are helping cleaning the city after its protest — and to scrub graffiti.

"I take great pride in saying I am part of this community," Walker said. "I am just a regular human being trying to do what we are supposed to do, and that's bring peace, positivity and joy throughout everybody's lives."

Footballers in Germany's Bundesliga, one of the only major sports leagues up and running right now, showed their support for Floyd.

Jadon Sancho was yellow-carded after scoring a goal for Dortmund and then removing his top to reveal a handwritten message which said: "Justice for George Floyd."

Marcus Thuram also took a knee in solidarity after scoring for Monchengladbach.

Four police officers were fired after their involvement in the incident where Floyd died. Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd's neck, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.