During a WNBA Lynx game, four off-duty Minneapolis police officers, who were providing security, walked out in protest as players wore pre-game shirts honoring victims of police killings. The shirts bore the names of Dallas police officers who had died in the line of duty as well as Philando Castile, a man killed by police during a traffic stop. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” was printed on the back of the shirts.

While discussing the significance of the shirts, players expressed their intention to honor the deceased and advocate for change regarding racial profiling and excessive violence. According to the Minneapolis Police Federation, officers requested the players to remove their jerseys. When the players refused, the officers left the field.

Chief Janee Harteau of the Minneapolis Police Department empathized with the officers’ challenges but condemned their actions. She emphasized that officers are obligated to uphold their oath of office even when off duty. The president of the police federation’s remarks elicited a strong reaction from Mayor Betsy Hodges, who vehemently asserted that the president did not represent the city administration.

Despite the controversy, the players’ actions highlighted concerns about racial profiling, violence, and divisions regarding police reform. It also underscored the role that sports play in addressing social issues and responsibilities.