MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The unrest over race was on the minds of some fans at Friday’s Minnesota Lynx game. People packed Target Center in support of the team, a week after four off-duty police officers working security walked off the job.

The police union said they were upset that Lynx players wore Black Lives Matter warmup jerseys.

It’s the first time the Minnesota Lynx are on home court since bringing attention to the need for justice and accountability.

“This is a big game for us and I think our fan base knows that,” coach Cheryl Reeve.

Members of the opposing team, New York Liberty, brought their own message. Some wore warm-up shirts that said #BlackLivesMatter and #Dallas5 in support of the five Dallas police officers shot and killed after the deaths of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. All of the players wore black to show they stand united.

And fans in the stands showed their solidarity.

“We’re with the Lynx in making a positive message to our community that enough is enough. Stop the violence,” fan Julie Manworren said.

The Lynx original message: Change Starts With Us moved to the crowd. Added to the back of the shirt: #WeSupportMNLynx

“We have to find a peaceful way to come together. The Lynx are fantastic ambassadors of coming together of all different kinds of people,” Manworren said.

The head of the Minneapolis police union said that officers returned to provide security.

Lt. Bob Kroll said that the police department had worked out their differences with the team that led to four officers leaving their posts last week.

Previously, Kroll spoke out in support of the officer’s walkout, and took a swipe at the team’s attendance numbers.
The incident led to criticism by both Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau and Mayor Betsy Hodges, the latter declaring Kroll’s comments to be “jackass remarks.”

The brouhaha ultimately led to an online campaign attempting to sell out Friday night’s game against the New York Liberty in support of the Lynx’s statement.

Kroll said that the controversy “got blown way out of proportion from that article in the Star Tribune” and that “both sides are just fine.” Furthermore, he suggested that it drummed up ticket sales for the team, and that ultimately that was “a good thing.”
Despite the controversy, fans were glad many heard the message.

“It’s important for them to have the voice, there’s so many people that look up to them. it takes courage to step up and speak,” fan Tamela Saulsberry said.

Jennifer Mayerle

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