Last updated on August 6, 2020
The backlash against Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler is growing, with many WNBA players wearing “Vote Warnock” shirts ahead of their games on Tuesday night. The shirts refer to Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock, who is running against Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler in the 2020 special Senate election.
Loeffler, a Republican, currently holds a seat in the U.S. Senate representing Georgia. She has come under fire for calling on WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelber to put a stop to the league's Black Lives Matter initiative in which players wore warm-up jerseys and shirts supporting the movement.
Many players, along with with WNBA Players Association, have called on Loeffler to step down from her position as Atlanta Dream co-owner.
After the Dream lost Tuesday night to the Phoenix Mercury, guard Chennedy Carter explained that Dream players “definitely decided to wear it because he’s for Black Lives Matter. He supports the league and the movement, and we support him. We’re voting for Warnock.”
Williams tweeted a photo of her wearing one of the “Vote Warnock” shirts and quoted John Lewis, the civil rights leader and Georgia Congressman who died July 17. “We are @wnba players, but like the late, great John Lewis said, we are also ordinary people with extraordinary vision. @ReverendWarnock has spent his life fighting for the people and we need him in Washington. Join the movement for a better Georgia.”
Ã¢ÂÂ Elizabeth Williams (@E_Williams_1) August 4, 2020
The idea of “Vote Warnock” shirts came from Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, according to Williams.
“This was a situation where given what was said in regards to the owner of Atlanta, and how, basically, she came out against a lot of what the women in our league stand for, I think was emotionally tough for a lot of the women in our league to hear that. But very quickly we started to realize that this was only happening for her political gain. This was something that she wanted. And the more noise we made, whether it was a tweet saying to get her out, that was just playing into her hands.
“I'm not some political strategist, but what I do know is that voting is important. And I think our league has always encouraged people to use their voices and to get out and vote.
“So, what a great way for us to get the word out about this man, and hopefully put him in Senate. And, if he's in Senate, you know who's not. And I'll just leave it at that.”
WNBA players formed a social justice council months ago which has hosted calls featuring 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, the mother of Breonna Taylor and Kimberlé Crenshaw, the creator of #SayHerName, which amplifies the stories of Black women killed by police brutality and violence.
Players across the league, which is majority Black, have called for Loeffler to be ousted from the WNBA. Englebert has said the co-owner will not be forced to sell her stake in the team.
Loeffler has used her criticism of the “cancel culture” to woo conservative supporters ahead of the November election as she competes against U.S. Rep. Doug Collins for Republican votes. She’s demanded that the WNBA abandon plans to honor the Black Lives Matter movement and instead put an American flag on every jersey.
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