A group of WNBA players have used their platform to take a stand against the increased presence of police brutality in the African-American community and now they’re speaking out in response to being fined by the league for their actions.
Several members of WNBA teams have been wearing t-shirts bearing the names of Black police brutality victims Alton Sterling and Philando Castile during pre-game warm ups. Sterling and Castile both lost their lives after being senselessly gunned down by police during confrontations with law enforcement in early July. The front of the black t-shirts read “Change Starts With Us” in bold white lettering, with the words “Justice & Accountability” in smaller white lettering just below. The words “Black Lives Matter” are also seen in bold white lettering on the back of the shirts just below the two most recent victims’ names.
While NBA commissioner Adam Silver responded by saying he encourages players to speak out about issues important to them, he also advised that they use social media, locker room time and press conferences to voice their stances rather than altering their warm up attire. He also reminded them that wearing the shirts during warmups was in violation of NBA policy. When a handful of WNBA players failed to heed the warning and continued to wear the t-shirts, they were fined. According to The Huffington Post, each team was fined $500, while each player was also hit with a $500 fine. Following the issuing of the fines, WNBA president Lisa Borders issued a brief statement in which she reiterated the importance of the players following NBA guidelines while addressing social issues. “We are proud of WNBA players’ engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues but expect them to comply with the league’s uniform guidelines,” Borders said in a statement issued to the Associated Press.
Mistie Bass of the Phoenix Mercury took to her Twitter shortly after the fines were assessed to criticize the league’s decision to penalize them for using their platform to take a stand.
Other WNBA players who have taken a stand by wearing the shirts include Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Lindsey Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson.
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