The WNBA has fined three of its teams and an undisclosed number of players for wearing shirts that drew attention to recent incidents of violence and injustice in America, The Associated Press reported.
The movement started last week, when Minnesota Lynx players, who were not fined, wore shirts that said “CHANGE STARTS WITH US; JUSTICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY” on the front and had the names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling alongside a Dallas PD emblem and Black Lives Matter logo on the back. The Lynx’s protest prompted four security guards working the game to walk out.
New York Liberty players followed suit, wearing shirts with “#BlackLivesMatter #Dallas” on the front. You can see them below.
The Dallas Wings have also been seen wearing protest shirts, the AP reported, prompting the league to send out a memo to teams reminding them of the league’s uniform policy.
In response, the Liberty, Indiana Fever, and Phoenix Mercury wore all-black warm-up shirts that they believed would be within bounds of the policy.
The league still deemed this a violation. In a statement provided to the AP, WNBA President Lisa Borders explained the reasoning behind the fine:
We are proud of WNBA players’ engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues but expect them to comply with the league’s uniform guidelines.
All three teams were fined $5,000 and each player was fined $500.
News of the fines provoked immediate backlash on social media. Phoenix Mercury player Mistie Bass’ tweeted:
Former WNBA player Tammy Sutton Brown had a similar reaction:
And the user below pointed out that the WNBA took no action when players wore shirts in memory of victims of the Orlando shooting.
The move comes in the wake of the introductory remarks at the ESPYs by NBA stars asking athletes to draw attention to injustices.