Liberty's Black Lives Matter T-shirts lose hashtags

AP News
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Posted: Jul 13, 2016 6:02 PM
Liberty's Black Lives Matter T-shirts lose hashtags

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Liberty players are still wearing warmups to support the Black Lives Matter movement — but their shirts won't be imprinted with hashtags created after recent police shootings.

The Liberty first wore black shirts Sunday with the words "#BlackLivesMatter" and "#Dallas5" on the front and a hashtag with a blank space on the back. But on Wednesday, players wore plain black Adidas shirts before a game against the Atlanta Dream, and said the decision was due to a compromise made by the players to wear the branded warmup shirts.

Adidas outfits WNBA teams, and the teams typically wear specific branded warmups.

"We didn't want the last time to be the only stance that we make," Liberty guard Tanisha Wright said. "It's easy to come out and make a stance one time. People will talk about it that one time and then they will forget about it. We don't want this conversation to be forgotten about."

Messages seeking comment from an Adidas representative were not immediately returned.

The Liberty's shirts were showcased after the Minnesota Lynx donned their own shirts on Saturday, and four off-duty police officers that were working security at Minnesota's game walked off the job in response. Minnesota did not wear their warmup shirts in their following game in San Antonio.

The Lynx shirts said, "Change starts with us. Justice & Accountability" on the front and the names of the two black men fatally shot by police in Minnesota and Louisiana on the back. The shirts also showed the Dallas police shield above the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

Some Liberty players said they planned to wear the shirts for the rest of the season, and others suggested other signs of support may be in the works.

"For me personally, we agreed we want to do it for the rest of the season with the black shirts we have on and meeting in the middle with the WNBA having Adidas-represented shirts," Liberty forward Tina Charles said. "Because of our time schedules we aren't allowed to be in protests. We aren't able to go out to city halls and say how we feel so I think the shirts represent our voice and I think the Minnesota Lynx did that very well."

The shirts were just one example of social activism on the part of WNBA players in recent weeks.

After the fatal shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm wrote the names of the 49 victims on her Nike "pride" shoes and auctioned them off after a game as well as a pair of shoes she wore the week prior that had "#Enough" and "Orlando United" on them.

As a team, the Storm signed 49 #OrlandoUnited shirts and placed them on seats at their Pride night to remember the victims. The shirts were sold to raise money for the OneOrlando Fund. The Phoenix Mercury hosted a blood drive and a silent auction. Liberty guard Shavonte Zellous has "Orlando Strong," ''Orlando United," and "LGBT" written on her sneakers.