Players want Sen. Kelly Loeffler out of WNBA ownership for opposing Black Lives Matter

"The WNBA ... will continue to use our platforms to vigorously advocate for social justice," Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in response to Loeffler.
Image: Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., leaves following a vote at the Capitol
Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., leaves following a vote at the Capitol on June 25, 2020.Al Drago / Reuters

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By Janelle Griffith

Some WNBA players are calling for the ouster of Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who co-owns the Atlanta Dream, after she objected to the league's plans to honor the Black Lives Matter movement.

Loeffler, a Republican who is running for re-election in Georgia, sent a letter to Commissioner Cathy Engelbert expressing her opposition to the league's plans for players to wear warmup jerseys with "Black Lives Matter" on the front and "Say Her Name" on the back.

On Monday, the WNBA announced that players would wear special uniforms during the opening weekend in late July to seek justice for women and girls "who have been the forgotten victims of police brutality and racial violence," such as Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor and Vanessa Guillen.

The announcement also said "Black Lives Matter" will be prominently displayed on courts during games.

In the letter, Loeffler said, "I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement." She also asked Engelbert to put an American flag on all uniforms and apparel.

"The truth is, we need less — not more politics in sports. In a time when polarizing politics is as divisive as ever, sports has the power to be a unifying antidote," Loeffler wrote. "And now more than ever, we should be united in our goal to remove politics from sports."

Loeffler, who has co-owned the Atlanta Dream since 2011, also said she was not consulted about the league's new social justice policy.

Engelbert issued a response Tuesday.

"The WNBA is based on the principle of equal and fair treatment of all people and we, along with the teams and players, will continue to use our platforms to vigorously advocate for social justice," Engelbert said. "Sen. Kelly Loeffler has not served as a Governor of the Atlanta Dream since October 2019 and is no longer involved in the day-to-day business of the team."

The WNBA players union tweeted Tuesday in response to Loeffler's letter: "E-N-O-U-G-H! O-U-T!"

Breanna Stewart, of the Seattle Storm, asked in a tweet Tuesday how Loeffler is still a team owner. "Bye Kelly," Stewart tweeted. "Keep that negative energy out of our league."

Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker told TNT on Tuesday that there is no place for Loeffler in the league, which she noted is "80 percent African American."

"I think we've had a number of people that have stepped forward and listened, and have taken initiative and taken action, and we've had those that haven't and continue to make comments and show why we're still in this situation," Parker said.