The WNBA sent a message that it will not allow players to make a statement on social issues by changing or covering their uniform, even prior to games. The Minnesota Lynx wore black shirts last week with the message "change starts with us" and the names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, two black men who were shot and killed by police, which caused multiple Minneapolis police officers who were working the game to walk out in protest. The WNBA responded by sending a memo to teams to remind them of the league's uniform policy, according to the AP.
"If we take this time to see that this is a human issue and speak out together, we can greatly decrease fear and create change. Tonight we wil be wearing shirts to honor and mourn the losses of precious American Citizens and to plea for change in all of us." - Rebekkah Brunson
A photo posted by minnesotalynx (@minnesotalynx) on
In the last week, members of Phoenix Mercury, New York Liberty and Indiana Fever wore plain black t-shirts prior to games in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and on Wednesday the WNBA announced that each team has been fined $5,000, and each player was personally fined $500.
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Via the AP:
"'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."
A number of current and former WNBA players criticized the league's decision on Twitter.