The WNBA protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake was powerful, and it was far from the only one in sports
Jacob Blake is still paralyzed in a Wisconsin hospital after police shot him seven times in the back as he walked away from them after trying to break up a fight. It’s just the latest act of white police brutality against Black Americans in a year that’s been full of them: Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. In protest — and in an attempt to make fans realize that this is about their lives — players in the WNBA joined players from other sports in canceling their games this week in protest.
The Washington Mystics made the powerful statement ahead of their Wednesday night game against the Atlanta Dream. Team members took to the court dressed in white shirts with letters spelling out Jacob Blake’s name across the front, and bullet holes across the back. There were seven bullet holes on each shirt, representing the seven times a white officer shot Blake. WNBA players from the Mystics, Dream, Minnesota Lynx, Connecticut Sun, Phoenix Mercury and Los Angeles Sparks all linked arms and took a knee during the national anthem. After the anthem played, they walked off the court together, signifying that they would not play in protest.
“We absolutely support them,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told news outlets amid the teams’ protests, which are happening at the same time as protests in cities across the country over Blake’s senseless shooting.
Atlanta Dream player Elizabeth Williams issued a statement on behalf of all WNBA players, saying they would not be playing their scheduled Wednesday games. The announcement followed the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks’ walkout of their playoff game against the Orlando Magic, and the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team’s decision to postpone their scheduled game against the Cincinnati Reds.
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers in the NBA and will continue this conversation with our brothers and sisters across all leagues and look to take collective action,” Williams said in the WNBA’s statement. “What we have seen over the last few months, and most recently with the brutal police shooting of Jacob Blake, is overwhelming. And while we hurt for Jacob and his community, we also have an opportunity to keep the focus on the issues and demand change.”
She continued, “When most of us go home, we still are Black. We’re not just basketball players. If you think we are, then don’t watch us, you’re watching the wrong sport, because we’re so much more than that. If we do this unified as a league, it looks different. Because this league is close to if not over 80% Black women. We have cousins, we have brothers, we have sisters, mothers, everyone. We matter … I’m tired of telling people that.”