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WNBA Fines 3 Teams, Players for Shootings Protest Shirts

WNBA Fines 3 Teams, Players for Shootings Protest Shirts

Players on New York Liberty await start of game against Atlanta Dream in New York City. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Friday, 22 July 2016 05:52 AM

The WNBA has fined three women's professional basketball teams and their players for wearing black warm up shirts as a social statement about police-related shootings, reported The Associated Press.

New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and Indiana Fever were fined $5,000 and each player was fined $500.

The Liberty have worn the plain black shirts four times, including Wednesday morning against Washington. The Mercury and Fever wore them Tuesday night. While the shirts were the Adidas brand — the official outfitter of the league — WNBA rules state that uniforms may not be altered in any way.

"We are proud of WNBA players' engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues but expect them to comply with the league's uniform guidelines," WNBA President Lisa Borders said in a statement provided to the AP on Wednesday night.

The league sent out a memo earlier this week to the teams reminding them of the uniform policy.

The memo came out after Minnesota, New York and Dallas all wore shirts in remembrance of two men who were shot by police and the five Dallas police officers who were killed in an attack on July 7.

The Lynx only wore their shirts once and said they will shift their focus to addressing the issue in other ways. The Liberty reached what the players called a compromise in which they wear plain black shirts bearing only the Adidas logo. New York's normal warm-up shirt is black, but has its logo on it as well.

Newsmax reported previously that four off-duty officers providing security walked out of that Lynx game over "Black Lives Matter" warm-up shirts worn by the players.

The officers were at the game at Target Center against Dallas when the players held a news conference denouncing racial profiling, said the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The team's t-shirts read "Change starts with us, justice and accountability" on the front, with the names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling on the back with the "Black Lives Matter" and a Dallas Police Department emblem.

Castile was killed in the Minneapolis area and Sterling in Baton Rouge in police-involved shootings, sparking protests around the country organized by the Black Lives Matters movement and other civil rights organizations.

Five police officers were shot and killed by a sniper in Dallas during one of those protests.

The Minneapolis Police Federation told WCCO-TV that the officers approached team officials about asking the players to take off the t-shirts, but the team refused.

"It's just a t-shirt, but our officers have been frustrated," said Lt. Bob Kroll, the police federation president. He called the display "anti-police" and said the players were supporting a "false narrative" about police misconduct.

"They're wading into waters they shouldn't be in to begin with," Kroll told WCCO-TV. "They are professional athletes. Stick with playing ball. People go there to watch the basketball game."

The players did not wear the t-shirt before the next road game in San Antonio, noted the Star-Tribune. The team issued a statement, called for "constructive discussion."

"The Lynx organization was made aware about the concerns of the off duty Minneapolis police officers," the team said. "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."

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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The WNBA has fined three women's professional basketball teams and their players for wearing black warm up shirts as a social statement about police-related shootings.
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Friday, 22 July 2016 05:52 AM
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