Last week the nation was struck by tragedy when to lives were taken at the hands of law enforcement in back-to-back days, then the next day at a protest, five officers lives were taken in response to the tragedies occurring.
On Saturday (July 9th) the Minnesota Lynx paid tribute to the lives taken that day with warm-up shirts before their game reading on the front, "Change starts with us, justice and accountability" and the back read the names of "Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the Dallas Police Department emblem and Black Lives Matter."
Following reading their shirts, four police officers working the game walked out from working, quitting on the spot. The Star Tribune reported a statement from the team:
"The Lynx organization was made aware about the concerns of the off-duty Minneapolis police officers. While our players’ message mourned the loss of life due to last week's shootings, we respect the right of those individual officers to express their own beliefs in their own way. ... We continue to urge a constructive discussion about the issues raised by these tragedies."
Before the game last week, Minnesota players made statements in a press conference, denouncing racial profiling, and the "senseless ambush" of Dallas police.
In the news conference, Rebekkah Brunson spoke for her teammates, stating they were "wearing shirts to honor and mourn the loss of precious American citizens and to plead change for all of us."
Maya Moore also made a comment. "We are highlighting a longtime problem of racial profiling," she said.
However, their statements did not sit well with President of the Minneapolis Police Foundation, Lt. Bob Kroll, who criticized Lynx players who were speaking on "false narratives" in the past two years in which some allegations of police misconduct in the killing of black people were refuted. He added they were "rushing to judgment."
When addressing his fellow off-duty officers for quitting Saturday after reading the warmup shirts, he said, "I commend them for it."
He even told reporters these would not be the only officers taking their name off the list to not work a Lynx game. "Others said they heard about it, and they were not going to work Lynx games," he said.
Kroll was questioned if the officers who had quit were going to be replaced and he stated, "If [the players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there."
Kroll shared with the Star Tribune, that because these off-duty officers are working an independent contract doing security for the Lynx games, they are allowed to "start or stop a job whenever they want."
This is not the first time the Minnesota Lynx have paid tribute to fallen individuals across the country. Earlier this season in June, following the mass shooting in Orlando, Lynx players warmed up in a similar black shirt, this time with a rainbow colored heart shape on it with "#OrlandoUnited" written on it.
The New York Liberty also paid tribute last weekend to the lives taken during the shootings last week, bringing attention to Black Lives Matter and the loss of the Dallas cops, showing the support coming from WNBA players.