Former President Barack Obama praised professional sports teams that boycotted scheduled games on Wednesday following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“I commend the players on the Bucks for standing up for what they believe in,” Obama wrote on Twitter, pointing to Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers and the broader NBA and WNBA organizations. “It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values.”
The NBA postponed all playoff games on Wednesday night after several teams said they would not participate. The move followed the Milwaukee Bucks’ walkout during a game against the Orlando Magic.
“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American community,” Bucks guard Sterling Brown said in a statement after the walkout. “Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there have been no actions, so our focus cannot be on basketball.”
The protest quickly spread to other teams and leagues. The WNBA canceled all games on Wednesday, and several MLB teams, including the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds, said they would also postpone in an apparent show of solidarity.
The strikes come amid an ongoing reckoning across the nation over police brutality and systemic racism. Wisconsin has seen several nights of protests following Blake’s shooting at the hands of a police officer. The state’s attorney general has identified Rusten Sheskey as the officer who shot Blake seven times in the back after an “unsuccessful” attempt to Taser him.
Sheskey, a seven-year veteran of the Kenosha police, has been placed on administrative leave, as have the other officers on scene. The Department of Justice is investigating the shooting.
Protests in Kenosha turned violent Tuesday night when armed white vigilantes arrived. Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, has been arrested and charged with shooting three people, two of whom died.
Blake is still in the hospital. His family said he has been paralyzed from the waist down.