UPDATE: After this story was published, it was reported that four off-duty police officers walked out of the Lynx game on Saturday, July 9, to protest Lynx players who held a pregame press conference to speak about racial profiling and the fatal shooting of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and five Dallas police officers last week.
On Tuesday, July 12, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said that the four Minneapolis police officers were wrong to leave the arena last Saturday in protest of the Lynx players’ T-shirts. The chief said in a released statement that she did not condone their actions and that she expected the off-duty officers — who were working as contracted security for the team — to act more professionally.
“Walking off the job and defaulting on their contractual obligation to provide a service to the Lynx does not conform to the expectations held by the public for the uniform these officers wear,” stated Harteau of the officers who left their posts. Information from HuffingtonPost.com was used to update this story.
According to the Star Tribune, the issue between the police officers and the Lynx players has been resolved.
An arena security guard put it best: What a week! From Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas, to a street corner in North Minneapolis where two infants were shot, the news has been full of tragic killings.
The sad events of the week weren’t lost on Lynx players, who, along with coaches, donned black colored T-shirts prior to Saturday’s Minnesota-Dallas WNBA contest in downtown Minneapolis. The shirts were intended to send a visual statement to the world that something needed to be done to address the violence locally and nationally.
“We all came together — the four of us [captains] and Coach [Cheryl Reeve] while in Connecticut — [to do] something,” explained Minnesota guard Lindsay Whalen to the MSR after the game. She joined forces with Rebekkah Brunson, Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus to send a message. “We put a lot of thought into the wording. We all want to come together as a community. We want justice and want to identify the issues. We need to make it a better place.”
The team’s statement was read during a pre-game press conference. Whalen said the players heard about the shooting death of a two-year-old and his 15-month-old sister shot in North Minneapolis Friday when they returned to town after playing in Connecticut the day before.
“We’re athletes in the community. We want to be positive role models,” explained Whalen on their part to bring awareness about issues. “You want to see change and if we can make a positive message and maybe start the dialogue” she said.
“People in our position don’t always speak up [because of] the fear of losing endorsements, losing public opinion or whatever,” added Lynx guard Augustus. “At this point, we felt we had to say something. Change needs to start somewhere, and we wanted to voice our opinion. We can’t continue to fight racial issues with violence. We have to find some peace to be able to move forward so we can progress as human beings.
“We need to clean up all the violence we are seeing — people in the community and law enforcement, and vice versa,” stressed Augustus on the shooting of the two infants.
The MSR also spoke with Minnesota Chapter MAD DADS President V.J. Smith in a phone interview, who applauded the Lynx players’ statement. “I think it is important that we all make a bold statement.”
Smith added, “Our young men are getting out of hand. We must do something to turn them around to change that. There is an adult who is giving guns to kids. We need to find out who those adults are, and we need to prosecute those adults.
“Then we need to prosecute those kids who are killing kids in our community. We need to open our mouths …and stop being afraid. It’s soiling the fabric of our community.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.