Reacting to comments and warm-up jerseys that denounced racial profiling and supported the Black Lives Matter movement, four off-duty Minneapolis police officers walked off their security posts at a Minnesota Lynx game Saturday.
According to the Star Tribune, Lynx players wore black shirts that read “Change starts with us, justice and accountability” in white type. The back of the shirts had Philando Castile’s and Alton Sterling’s names, and featured the phrase “Black Lives Matter” as well as an emblem representing the Dallas Police Department.
Last week, police in Minnesota and Louisiana killed Castile and Sterling, sparking nationwide protests.
At a pregame press conference, Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson said that the shirts were “to honor and mourn the loss of precious American citizens and to plead change for all of us.”
Team captain Maya Moore also denounced the “senseless ambush” of Dallas police officers in an attack that left five dead.
In response, the four officers working security at the event removed their names from a list of officers working future Lynx games.
Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, praised the officers for quitting, saying that other officers may also refuse to work Lynx games.
“If [the players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there,” Kroll said.
Kroll criticized the players for their demonstration.
“Rushing to judgment before the facts are in is unwarranted and reckless,” Kroll said.
Police can sign up for off-duty jobs like working Lynx games, Kroll said.
“They can start or stop a job whenever they want,” he said. “They are working on an independent contract.”
Despite the police walk-off, Target Center still retains private security.