On Saturday, the WNBA kicked off their season after a lengthy delay due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and right before the start of the very first game, all participating players staged a powerful protest message that seems likely to irritate President Donald Trump, if he hears about it. Before the national anthem was played, every one of the players who was going to participate in the game walked off the court and walked back to their respective locker rooms. The peaceful protest message comes on the heels of years of a steadily growing tide of professional athletes who have staged some kind of peaceful protest during or right around the national anthem in an effort to bring attention to issues of police brutality and other forms of societally-embedded racism.
Correction: Players left the court before the national anthem was played, not during. https://t.co/MdW7HtMO1P
— ESPN (@espn) July 26, 2020
The Saturday game that was kicking off the WNBA season was between the Seattle Storm and the New York Liberty. Before the start of their game, all players also participated in a 26-second moment of silence that was meant to honor Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman who was murdered by police in Louisville, Kentucky, in March. At the time, the cops were serving a “no-knock” search warrant on her residence, although criminal defense attorney T. Greg Doucette notes that authorities “had the wrong address on the warrant, but the killer cops didn’t know that” and authorities also “already had the person in custody, but the killer cops didn’t know that either.”
"We will say her name."
— ESPN (@espn) July 25, 2020
Members of the WNBA have already openly supported the Black Lives Matter movement prior to the peaceful protest displays that preceded the Saturday game. For instance, the message “Black Lives Matter” has apparently been put on display at all of the league’s courts. They’re not the only athletes who have recently kept up their support of the Black Lives Matter movement — before the opening game of the Major League Baseball season this past Thursday, all players took a knee prior to the national anthem and held onto a long black cloth. The gesture of taking a knee has been used as a peaceful protest message in the past.
Every player and coach on the Yankees & Nationals took a knee before the national anthem tonight in D.C.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) July 23, 2020
Trump has loudly complained about peaceful protests during the national anthem. Recently, he tweeted:
‘Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!’
Protests will continue, whether he likes them or not.
Looking forward to live sports, but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 21, 2020