Lynx players won’t wear Black Lives Matters shirts Tuesday following police officers’ walkout

Four off-duty police officers working security at a Minnesota Lynx home game on Saturday walked out on the job over warmup jerseys worn by players featuring a message in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

A Lynx spokesperson said Tuesday the players won’t be wearing the shirts before that night’s game in San Antonio.

The front of the black T-shirts read, “Change starts with us; justice and accountability.”

The back featured the words “Black Lives Matter,” along with the names of Philando Castile, shot to death by a St. Anthony, Minn., police officer on Wednesday, and Alton Sterling, killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, La., on July 5. Castile and Sterling were African American.

The jersey also displayed a Dallas police shield to recognize the five officers shot to death by a sniper during a peaceful protest Thursday.

Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunsun said in a pregame news conference the shirts were meant “to honor and mourn the loss of precious American citizens and to plead change for all of us.”

But apparently the off-duty officers who had signed up to assist the private security that works at the Target Center didn’t see it that way. And their union chief told the Minneapolis Star Tribune he supported their actions.

“I commend them for it,” said Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Federation, said.

Kroll criticized the Lynx players for the statements they were making with the shirts.

“Rushing to judgment before the facts are in is unwarranted and reckless,” he said.

Kroll also put down the Lynx in general.

“They only have four officers working the event because the Lynx have such a pathetic draw,” he said.

Kroll was the focus of a protest march in December, as about 100 people called for his ouster after his comments in support of two officers who shot and killed an unarmed black man a month earlier.

An article on that march in the Minneapolis newspaper City Pages reported that protesters accused Kroll of making racist comments and being associated with white power organizations. It also said Kroll was sued in 1993 for allegations that he beat up an African American teenage boy while calling him racist slurs. The city won that case in federal court with a black judge.

Kroll said of last weekend’s walk-off that other officers feel the same as the ones who refused to work the Lynx game. “If [the players] are going to keep their stance, all officers may refuse to work there.”

A police spokesman declined to comment to the Star Tribune about the incident while Chief Janee Harteau was still gathering facts. Representatives of the Lynx and Target Center did not immediately respond to the Star Tribune’s requests for comment.


9:31 a.m.: This post has been updated with the Lynx saying its players won’t be wearing the shirts Tuesday night.

This post was originally published at 7:47 a.m.