Prior to their team’s game against the Dallas Wings on Saturday night, several members of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx—including captains Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson, and Lindsay Whalen—wore T-shirts to commemorate the recent deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five members of the Dallas Police Department and to call for change. The front of the black shirts said, "Change Starts With Us—Justice and Accountability," while the back had the names of Sterling and Castile as well as the DPD shield and the words "Black Lives Matter." Brunson explained that members of the team decided to wear the shirts in order to take a stand on a very important social issue.
"If we take this time to see that this is a human issue and speak out together, we can greatly decrease fear and create change," Moore said before taking the court for her team’s game against the Wings. "Tonight, we will be wearing shirts to honor and mourn the losses of precious American citizens and to plead for change in all of us."
Augustus put it another way later:
Four off-duty Minneapolis police officers who were working security for the Wings/Lynx game at the Target Center in Minnesota didn’t appreciate the gesture. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, those police officers abandoned their security posts after seeing the shirts and refused to work at the game. Additionally, Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, spoke with the Star Tribune and revealed that his organization is standing behind the officers for doing it. He also told the Star Tribune that other officers might turn down security jobs with the Lynx moving forward if the players continue to wear the shirts.
"If [the players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there," he said.
As of Tuesday, the four officers who walked out of the Lynx game on Saturday have not been identified, but they have reportedly removed their names from a list of police officers who regularly work at WNBA games. The Lynx’s next home game will be on Friday night against the New York Liberty. It’s unclear whether or not members of the team will wear the shirts again.