Four off-duty Minneapolis cops working the Minnesota Lynx game Saturday night left their posts after players called an end to racial profiling at a press conference. The officers also removed their names from future games at the Target Center, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Tuesday.
“I commend them for it,” Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, told the newspaper. Kroll said that other officers would follow suit. “If [players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there,” he added.
Kroll said that “false narratives” have been perpetuated following some allegations of police misconduct, the Star-Tribune reported.
The Lynx responded to the officer’s actions in a statement provided to HuffPost on Tuesday, urging the public to have a “constructive discussion” about the last week’s shootings:
The Lynx organization was made aware about the concerns of the off duty Minneapolis police officers who had signed up to work Saturday night’s game vs. Dallas. 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. At no time was the safety of our game in question as Target Center staffs extra personnel for each and every game. The Lynx and the entire WNBA have been saddened by the recent shootings in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and St. Paul. We continue to urge a constructive discussion about the issues raised by these tragedies.
The players wore black warmup shirts that read “Change Starts With Us ― Justice and Accountability” on the front. The back featured the names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, both of whom police killed in separate shootings this month. The Dallas Police Department shield and “Black Lives Matter” were written at the bottom of the shirts.
“Racial profiling is a problem,” Lynx player Rebekkah Brunson said in introductory remarks during the press conference (above). She recalled a frightening incident involving police when she was 8 years old. Police drew their weapons on Brunson and her friends while they were playing, she said.
“Tonight we will be wearing shirts to honor and mourn the losses of precious American citizens and to plead for change in all of us,” Brunson said, per USA Today.
Teammate Maya Moore also mentioned that the shirts highlighted racial profiling and unjust violence against blacks. Moore stressed that the players do not condone violence against the police. It’s tragic that a sniper had targeted officers in Dallas, which has improved its de-escalation training efforts, resulting in fewer shootings by police, she added.
This article has been updated with comment from the Minnesota Lynx.
Justin Block contributed reporting.