During a WNBA Lynx game, four off-duty Minneapolis police officers providing security walked out in protest due to players wearing pre-game shirts that honored victims of police shootings. The black T-shirts displayed the names of Philando Castile, a man killed by police during a traffic stop, and Dallas police officers killed on duty. The back of the shirts bore the words “Black Lives Matter.”
The players, while explaining the intent behind the shirts, emphasized their desire to honor the deceased and advocate for change in racial profiling and violence. Minneapolis Police Federation revealed that the officers asked the team to remove the shirts, and upon refusal, they left.
Minneapolis Police Chief, Janee’ Harteau, understood the officers’ frustrations but condemned their actions, stating that officers must adhere to their oath of office even while off-duty. Minneapolis Mayor, Betsy Hodges, criticized the police federation president’s comments, asserting that he didn’t speak for the city’s management.
Despite controversy, the players’ stand highlighted issues of racial profiling and violence while revealing divisions over police reform and the role of athletes in social issues.