This past Saturday, four members of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx wore T-shirts during warm-up sessions for their game against the Dallas Wings in honor of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, two African-American men who were shot and killed by the police, as well as the five police officers in Dallas who were murdered last week by a sniper during a Black Lives Matter protest rally. The black T-shirts read on the front, “Change starts with us. Justice & Accountability,” while the back of the T-shirts displayed the emblem of the Dallas Police Department along with Sterling and Castile’s names and the phrase “Black Lives Matter.”
Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore told reporters: “We as a nation can decide to stand up for what is right, no matter your race, background or social status. It is time that we take a deep look at our ability to be compassionate and empathetic to those suffering from the problems that are deep within our society. Again, this is a human issue, and we need to speak out for change together.”
Officers from the Minneapolis Police Department, who were working as security for the Minnesota Lynx during their home games, responded to all of this by abandoning their positions and refusing to return to their jobs. They also had their names removed from the list of Minnesota Police Department officers working as security personnel at any future Lynx games.
Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, said in response: “I commend them for it … If [the players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there … [The officers] can start or stop a job whenever they want. They are working on an independent contract.”
When asked about the number of officers who walked away in protest, and whether it was seven or eight officers who did so, Lt. Kroll said, “They only have four officers working the event because the Lynx have such a pathetic draw.”
Said Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau: “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. While I do not condone the actions of the officers, I realize how every member of law enforcement throughout this country, including myself, is feeling right now…Everyone is hurting and we all need to find a way to come together. I am proud of our profession and the service our officers provide on a daily basis.”
Police officers are really out here acting lemon-faced about people seeking justice for dead civilians. Astounding. https://t.co/qSZIQb6q1U— Olivia A. Cole (@RantingOwl) July 12, 2016
And the headline is misleading. They didn't leave "the game." They left their POSTS. They walked off the job. https://t.co/995KDa7WQ3— Olivia A. Cole (@RantingOwl) July 12, 2016
If I was able to walk off my job every time I had someone say or do some shit that made me uncomfortable… Can you imagine?— Olivia A. Cole (@RantingOwl) July 12, 2016
"Must be niiiiice…" <Lyfe Jennings voice>— Olivia A. Cole (@RantingOwl) July 12, 2016
You know what’s as exhausting and infuriating as reading in the news again and again and again that another Black person has been abused, assaulted, and murdered by police officers? Being told by police officers, and the people who support everything they do, how difficult their job is. How we don’t understand everything that police officers go through. And how we need to take their feelings into account and be more appreciative of what they do.
"Blue Lives Matter" is mad confusing to me. You being a police officer is optional. Me being black is not. Your fear can stop. Mine can't.— Petty LaBelle (@HeySheridan) July 10, 2016
Well, Lt. Kroll, Commissioner Bratton, Rudolph Giuliani, and everyone else who feels this way…I hate to tell you this (actually, I don’t, and I can think of many people who will tell you the exact same thing with even more profanities included), but your feelings about how disrespected and unappreciated police officers are mean little to nothing when compared to the inexcusably high number of Black people whose lives have been ruined and ended by police officers who are undeserving of their badge and uniform. Yes, Winston Churchill spoke truth when he once said that we sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. The problem is that there are far too many rough men out there in uniform who are willing to visit violence on anyone who is Black simply because they are Black and for no other reason. And all that Black people have been saying is that this needs to stop, and that their lives matter just as much as anyone else’s, which is why more needs to be done in order to make this stop.
This also includes police officers who regularly insist on telling us that there are ‘good cops’ out there. I believe that there are good cops who wear their badge and carry out their duties with honor and integrity, but when they refuse to speak out against cops who don’t…that’s a problem, as Peter Rosenberg, DJ for the New York hip-hop station Hot 97, made clear when speaking to a police officer who called into his radio show about the death of Alton Sterling:
So until that happens, police officers and their supporters will just have to live with their feelings continuing to be hurt by those who speak out against them. Because they at least have the option to live. Which is more than can be said about Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tanisha Anderson, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Walter Scott, and far too many others who no longer have the option to live with anything, and are the reasons why we say that Black Lives Matter.