A week after members of the Minnesota Lynx wore shirts condemning the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling and the shootings that left five Dallas police officers dead, the WNBA decided to fine players from the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury, and Indiana Fever who have been wearing black shirts in protest of the violence. In response, they have continued their protests. Tina Charles accepted the Player of the Month award in her black warm-up shirt, and Liberty and Fever players informed reporters that they would only answer questions about the recent violence.
This morning Carmelo Anthony—who has been rather outspoken about his desire for athletes to speak up for political causes and opened the ESPYs with a speech against gun violence—expressed his solidarity with WNBA players and pointed out the contrast between the NBA’s past support for players using their platform to advocate for change (such as LeBron James wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt) and the WNBA’s condemnation of such actions. From the New York Post:
“I don’t see no reason to fine them,’’ Anthony said before Thursday’s U.S. Olympic team practice at UNLV. “If anything you should want to support them. I don’t know details, but don’t see a reason to fine them.”
“A bunch of teams did it,” Anthony said. “Everyone has their own freedom of speech if they decide to use the platform. I don’t see no reason for anybody to get fined. We did it [3 ¹/₂ years ago after the Trayvon Martin shooting]. The NBA did it. The NBA was very supportive. I don’t see any difference in this matter. Right now the players have a very strong stance in what they believe in right now. I don’t think anyone should be fighting that at this moment.”
Anthony is also in the process of organizing a meeting on Monday with politicians and community leaders in Los Angeles. The meeting will apparently be closed to media, and its purpose is to stoke a meaningful dialogue about police-violence-related issues. When asked if anyone was telling him to stop speaking out, he said:
“I don’t think anyone can tell me that at this point,’’ Anthony said. “I won’t listen to anybody that I shouldn’t do this or that.’’