Racial tension has risen back to the surface in the United States, with many people just not sure of what to make of the situation. The deaths of several black men by police officers, followed by the killing of several police officers in Dallas has caused a wave of racial movements in the United States. A trending hashtag along with demonstrations around the country is “Black Lives Matter.” The idea of this three word saying caused tension at a recently Women’s National Basketball Association game, resulting in several off-duty police officers quitting their security freelance jobs and leave the basketball stadium.
Minneapolis is the site where one black resident, Alton Sterling, was shot and killed in his vehicle while attempting to present a police officer with his concealed weapon’s firearm permit. His girlfriend live streamed the encounter on Facebook. It served as the second highly publicized police shooting of a black man in as many days. Nearly a week later, the Minnesota Lynx Women’s basketball team played a home game. This is when tensions began to escalate on the matter.
Tension in Minneapolis had risen over the past week. However, for several police officers, it reached a peak during a press conference. During the press conference, four players entered wearing “Black Lives Matters” t-shirts. They confirmed the entire team would wear the shirts during warm ups.
The demonstration of the “Black Lives Matter” t-shirts came on a WNBA game where Minnesota was playing the Dallas Wings. Dallas was the site where five police officers had been slain during a Black Lives Matter rally.
The entire t-shirt read “Change starts with US. Justice and accountability. On the reverse of the shirt it included the names of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as the Dallas Police Department shield. “Black Lives Matter” concluded the rear of the shirt.
The demonstration sparked outrage by four off-duty police officers serving as security for the game. It is not uncommon for police officers to serve as security for events such as this. As an extra way to bring in income, police officers around the country often do this. Four officers walked out of the job, quitting on the spot. The officers removed their names from being used as security for the WNBA team on any future dates.
The demonstration by these four officers hit a cord with the rest of the Minneapolis police department, Lt. Bob Kroll, the head of the Police Officers Federation in Minneapolis offered support for the police officers and stated many other officers would likely do the same. However, Police Chief Janee Harteau said she did not condone what the officers did. She said that while technically working for the Lynx team, the officers were wearing their police uniforms and shields, so when they agree to work a job they need to hold up their police oath as officers and serve the event. She said they failed to offer security to the public at the event, and if the officers had an issue, they should have waited until the conclusion of the game.