Saturday night, players on the Minnesota Lynx wore t-shirts during warm-ups supporting the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Across the front, the shirts said “Change Starts With US — Justice & Accountability” while the back listed the names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, two black men who were fatally shot by police officers last week.
In addition to those names, the shirt also featured the shield of the Dallas police, in support of the five officers slain during a shooting rampage during a police brutality protest.
Four off duty officers that were working the game as security for the Target Center left the game because of the shirts.
Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, praised them for quitting. “I commend them for it,” he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Kroll said the four officers also removed themselves from a list of officers working future games. He did not know who the officers were. “Others said they heard about it and they were not going to work Lynx games,” he said.
Asked if other officers will fill in for those who quit, Kroll said, “If [the players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there.”
Also from the Star Tribune:
Asked about a report that seven or eight officers had walked off the job, Kroll said, “They only have four officers working the event because the Lynx have such a pathetic draw.”
During the pregame news conference, Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson said the players were “wearing shirts to honor and mourn the loss of precious American citizens and to plead change for all of us.”
“We are highlighting a longtime problem of racial profiling,” said forward Maya Moore, the 2014 WNBA MVP.
The team sent this statement to For The Win:
“While our players’ message mourned the loss of life due to last week’s shootings, we respect the right of those individual officers to express their own beliefs in their own way. At no time was the safety of our game in question as Target Center staffs extra personnel for each and every game,” the statement continued. “The Lynx and the entire WNBA have been saddened by the recent shootings in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and St. Paul. We continue to urge a constructive discussion about the issues raised by these tragedies.”