MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The group “Black Lives Matter” wants Minnesota Lynx fans to fill Target Center Friday night as they host the New York Liberty.
The move, launched via a Facebook page, is in response to the four Minneapolis police officers who walked off the job while they were off-duty and working security at last Saturday’s Lynx game. They walked off after Lynx players wore pregame warm-up shirts featuring black men who have been shot by police, including Philando Castile, and the phrase “Black Lives Matter.
The back of the shirts also showed a Dallas police badge in honor of the five officers killed there during a protest. Before the game, Lynx players said the jerseys were meant to honor and mourn the deaths, and to call for change.
The head of the Minneapolis Police Union, Bob Kroll, said Tuesday that the Lynx player protest was “anti-police” and that Lynx players were buying into a “false narrative” about police misconduct.
“They’re wading into waters they shouldn’t be in to begin with,” he said. “They are professional athletes. Stick with playing ball. People go there to watch the basketball game.”
Kroll also said there were only four officers working the off-duty security because “the Lynx has such a pathetic draw.”
“The silver lining in that is that it got people talking and that’s the most important thing right now,” Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson said. “Regardless of how we feel about that, the important thing is we’re talking about it. And in us talking about it, we have the opportunity to create change.”
In response to Kroll’s remarks, “Black Lives Matter” created the “Stand with the Minnesota Lynx” Facebook page. The Lynx are currently second in the WNBA’s Western Conference at 17-4 and have won three championships in the last five seasons.
“I think we have a great opportunity. We draw well and we welcome everyone. That’s the greatest thing,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said Thursday. “One of the ways to progress through this issue is to truly integrate our communities. For our white fans, our black fans, our brown fans, all of our fans to be in one place together rooting for the same thing, which is the Minnesota Lynx, I think that’s a thing of beauty and that’s something you want to be a part of.”
The page calls for fans to fill up Target Center despite Kroll’s remarks about fan attendance. The Lynx and Liberty will tip off at 7 p.m. Friday.