Former UM women’s basketball players participate in WNBA strike; Hurricanes react to police shooting of Jacob Blake

Photo credit: WNBA

Many former and current Miami players and coaches joined in the protest and expressed frustration in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday.

Police officers shot Blake, a 29-year old Black man, in the back seven times outside his car. His family says he is paralyzed from the waist down. The shooting sparked protests in Wisconsin and across the country.

Former Miami women’s basketball players Shenise Johnson of the Minnesota Lynx, Riquna Williams of the Los Angeles Sparks and Beatrice Mompremier of the Connecticut Sun were part of the strike of professional sports games on Wednesday night.

The Milwaukee Bucks were the first professional sports team that chose not to play Game 5 of their first round playoff series against the Orlando Magic. Shortly after, the NBA announced the postponement of the rest of Wednesday’s playoff games and subsequently Thursday’s games as well.

The Lynx and the Sparks were scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, but instead the players took a knee at mid-court at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, in a showing of unity. They were joined by players on the Washington Mystic and Atlanta Dream as they walked out onto the court in shirts that spelled out the name of Jacob Blake and had seven bullet holes in the back to represent the seven times Blake was shot by the police.

Hurricanes football head coach Manny Diaz expressed his frustration in a Twitter post Wednesday night and called out those who, in his words, hide behind “what-about-ism.”

“Time for hiding behind ‘what-about-ism’ on social media is over,” Diaz said on Twitter. “Ask these two simple questions – Can things be better than they are now? And if yes, are we doing everything we can to make it so? Growth always comes in moments of discomfort! #Kenosha #VoteLikeYourLifeDependsOnIt

Canes football players also shared their feelings on social media.

“It’s so normal for things like this to happen in our country…Crazy #JacobBlake,” starting quarterback D’Eriq King posted on Twitter.

Running back Cam’Ron Harris tweeted, “BLACK LIVES MATTER. SALUTE TO THE Bucks.”

Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee retweeted King’s post with the comments: “It shouldn’t be and we must do all we can to make it so it won’t be for our countries future. For all our kids future. We must do better. We must expect better.”

Other professional sports teams in Miami also postponed games. The newly formed Inter Miami did not play in its game on Wednesday night against Atlanta United. The Miami Marlins were midway through a game against the New York Mets when the Bucks started the strike on Wednesday, but on Thursday, the Marlins and the Mets shared a great display of unity when they decided not to participate in that night’s game. The two teams were on the field right before first pitch when all players from both teams exited the dugout and left the field, leaving only a Black Lives Matter T-shirt on home plate.

The NBA and WNBA strike come exactly four years after NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick first took a knee before an NFL game in protest of the unfair treatment of Black people in the United States.

The WNBA is scheduled to resume games on Friday and the NBA could resume games this weekend, although nothing has been confirmed by the league yet.