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WNBA Pays Tribute to #SayHerName in Season Opener

WNBA wants us to #SayHerName

As the WNBA starts their two-month delayed season, they are letting fans know “Black Lives Matter will remain the focus”. During the opening weekend, all 12 teams will compete in jerseys that feature the name of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician who was fatally shot in her home on March 13 by Louisville Metro Police Department officers.

Players will not only wear jerseys (during the game) with Taylor’s name, but they will also wear warm-up shirts with “Black Lives Matter” on the front and “Say Her Name” on the back. The courts that the 12 teams will play on will also feature the Black Lives Matter message.

L.A. Sparks star forward Candace Parker stated, “Anyone of us could have been Breonna Taylor. So although we wear Breonna Taylor’s name on the back of our jersey, it represents so many other different African-American women that have been killed by the police.”. Parker is returning to the Sparks for her 13th season.

WNBA players walk off the court during the National Anthem

As the national anthem was played at the opening of the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty game, all the players walked off the floor and returned to their respective locker rooms. The players did this as a sign of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Once returning to the court, the players took a 26-second moment of silence in remembrance of Breonna Taylor. Players in several professional sports have shown their support for the BLM movement by kneeling or wearing warmups that are inspired by Black Lives Matter.

“We are dedicating this season to Breonna Taylor, an outstanding EMT who was murdered over 130 days ago in her home,” stated Liberty point guard Layshia Clarendon while standing mid-court with Storm forward Breanna Stewart. “We will say her name. Sandra Bland. Atatiana Jefferson. Dominique Remy Fells. Breonna Taylor. We will be a voice for the voiceless.”

Remembering Breonna Taylor

Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman, was fatally shot while sleep in her home. Louisville police were conducting a no-knock warrant at her home related to a narcotics investigation. Taylor and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were in bed sleeping when they heard a loud banging on the door.  Walker fired his gun after an exchange with the officers, then officers fired several rounds back striking Taylor. Walker stated Taylor struggled to breathe for five minutes after she was shot and received no medical attention for more than 20 minutes.

Kenneth Walker was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of a police officer; however, his charges were dismissed in May. As of today, none of the officers that are responsible for Breonna Taylor’s death have been charged with crimes. Officer Brett Hankison was fired and the other officers involved, Jon Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, were placed on administrative leave.

What is the #SayHerName Movement?

The deaths of black men at the hands of police fueled the outrage over police brutality and systematic racism, but there have also been many women killed. The #SayHerName movement was created in 2014 by Kimberlé Crenshaw and the African American Policy Forum. It was created to raise awareness for black female victims of police brutality and anti-black violence in the United States. We all recognize the names of Breonna Taylor and Sandra Bland, but there are many more that have been killed in many of the same circumstances as our black men. If we can say their names, we will know more about their story.

Charleena Lyles, a pregnant 30-year-old mother of four, was shot and killed by police in 2017 in her Seattle home. She called 911 to report a burglary at her apartment. Police officers claimed she threatened them with one or two knives and found no evidence of a burglary.

Deborah Danner was shot to death in her Bronz apartment after police responded to a call about an “emotionally disturbed person. Danner suffered from schizophrenia and officers claimed she advanced at them with a baseball bat. Danner wrote about deadly police responses to people suffering from mental illnesses four years prior to her killing. “We are all aware of the all too frequent news stories of the mentally ill who come up against law enforcement instead of mental health professionals and end up dead….”.

And the list goes on…. #SayHerName



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