Four off-duty police officers on post at the July 9 Minnesota Lynx WNBA basketball game quit their positions after seeing the players’ T-shirts, which demanded “justice and accountability.” The message was made in the wake of the police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile last week. Their deaths reportedly led to the Dallas shooting, in which five officers were killed, Atlanta Black Star reported.
According to the Star Tribune, the four team captains – Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen – donned the shirts to honor victims lost in last week’s events. The group held a press conference in Target Center explaining the wardrobe was chosen to encourage an end to racial profiling and continued wearing the T-shirts during their warm up that night.
“In the wake of the tragedies that have continued to plague our society, we have decided it’s important to take a stand and raise our voices,” Brunson said in the conference. “Racial profiling is a problem. Senseless violence is a problem. The divide is way too big between our communities and those who have vowed to protect and serve us.”
Four off-duty police officers left the job when they saw the black shirts, which read “Change starts with us, justice and accountability” on the front. Philando Castile and Alton Sterling’s names were on the back with a Dallas Police Department emblem and “Black Lives Matter.”
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve supported her team members’ political action.
“In order to enact change, when you see an injustice, you can’t stand idly by,” she told Lynx Radio Network. “I think it was very thoughtful of them and, as usual, I’m very proud of them.”
Minneapolis Police Federation president Lt. Bob Kroll backed the officers who walked out.
“I commend them for it,” he told the Tribune.
He added the four officers removed themselves from working future games, but he did not know who they were.
“Others said they heard about it and they were not going to work Lynx games,” the police union head added.
Kroll accused Lynx players of perpetuating “false narratives” since 2014, as some allegations of police misconduct leading to Black deaths were denied.
“Rushing to judgment before the facts are in is unwarranted and reckless,” he said before claiming only four officers worked the game because the team has “such a pathetic draw.”
However, Saturday’s game in Minneapolis saw more than 7,600 fans in attendance.