WNBA teams joined others across sports in protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with all three games scheduled for Wednesday night postponed.
The NBA’s three games Wednesday also were postponed after the Milwaukee Bucks did not take the floor for their game against the Orlando Magic. Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds also postponed their game.
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers in the NBA and will continue this conversation with our brothers and sisters across all leagues and look to take collective action,” said the Dream’s Elizabeth Williams. “What we have seen over the last few months, and most recently with the brutal police shooting of Jacob Blake, is overwhelming. And while we hurt for Jacob and his community, we also have an opportunity to keep the focus on the issues and demand change.
“These moments are why it’s important for our fans to stay focused, hear our voices, know our hearts and connect the dots from what we say to what we do.”
The WNBA has made social justice the primary platform for its 2020 season in its bubble in Bradenton, Florida, with players wearing Breonna Taylor’s name on the backs of their jerseys.
Taylor, a Louisville woman killed by police after a no-knock raid on her home in March, and other women who have been killed or wounded in police shootings have been a focus of the WNBA and the “Say Her Name” campaign, which seeks to raise awareness for them.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the league “absolutely supports” the postponements of Wednesday’s games, saying the WNBA is running a “player-first agenda.”
“We know it’s a very emotional time for our players,” Engelbert said. “We know that they’re struggling with what has been happening in this country for months, if not years. They’re young; they’re trying to find their voice. I’ve been so proud of how strong their social justice voice has been around ‘Say Her Name’ and women victims.
“So, it’s difficult. But I also felt that I needed to point out how strong they’ve been through this, and to give them some courage and some confidence that basketball’s been part of their platform and that they can do both. And, obviously, they decided not to play tonight.”
Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times by police on Sunday. Blake was shot as he attempted to enter the driver’s side door of his vehicle with three of his children inside. Video of the shooting was distributed on social media.