WNBA Players Wear Shirts with Faux Bullet Holes at Game, Boycott Playing After Jacob Blake Shooting
"We aren't just basketball players and just because we are basketball players, that's our only platform," Ariel Atkins, a guard for the Washington Mystics, said on ESPN2. "We need to understand that when most of us go home, most of us are Black."
The Washington Mystics basketball team showed their support on the court Wednesday night for protests against the recent police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, in Wisconsin.
Each player wore a white T-shirt with a letter in Blake’s name on the front and seven holes on the back, representing the number of times Blake, a 29-year-old father of six, was shot by a police officer Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
They lined up in the center of the court to spell out “Jacob Blake,” embracing one another before kneeling to reveal the back of their shirts.
The Washington Mystics boycotted their game against the Atlanta Dream Wednesday night before taking the court for the photo op, prompting the WNBA to postpone it and the remaining two games on the schedule, according to ESPN.
"We wanted everybody to feel like they were supported," Ariel Atkins, a guard for the Washington Mystics, said on ESPN2. "Understanding that this just isn't about basketball. We aren't just basketball players and just because we are basketball players, that's our only platform. We need to understand that when most of us go home, most of us are Black."
Athletes and teams from across several sports, including the MLB, MLS, NBA, and tennis, refused to play in their games Wednesday following the Milwaukee Bucks announcement that they would boycott their Game 5 against the Orlando Magic in the wake of Sunday’s shooting.
Blake was shot as he opened the driver’s side door of a car and leaned in with three of his sons (ages 3, 5 and 8) inside the vehicle, according to bystander video of the incident and Ben Crump, an attorney for the Blake family.
Crump said that Blake had been helping to deescalate a domestic incident when police drew weapons and tasered him. According to the DOJ, Blake had a knife in his possession, which authorities retrieved from the driver’s side floorboard of the car.
All officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave.
Blake's father says his son, who is recovering, was left paralyzed from the waist down by the shooting.
The incident has since sparked protests and destruction in Kenosha. Two people were killed, and a third was injured, in a shooting at a protest in the city on Tuesday night.