Angel McCoughtry has an idea to honor victims of police violence: put their names on WNBA jerseys.
On Monday, the Las Vegas Aces forward opened a Change.org petition asking the W to allow players to put the names of police brutality victims on their jerseys. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 1,600 people have signed the petition.
“In an effort to promote racial equality, I have created a petition to encourage players to use their uniform as a platform to promote the names of men and women of color who were injured or killed in incidents involving police brutality,” McCoughtry wrote in the petition description. “Let’s use our voices, our platforms, and our sport for change.”
Angel McCoughtry told Newsweek this would allow the league to play without distracting from the ongoing protests across the country.
“I believe that the best way to keep shining a light on social issues is by highlighting it when we get back on the court,” she said. “We already have ads on our jersey, why not market things that are important to us?
“Personally I hope to keep awareness alive and give athletes a chance to develop relationships with the names of their choice to wear on their uniform. We have been taught for a long time to make your name mean something, well that’s not just athletes, that’s also for our medical [heroes] on the frontline and for victims of injustice as well.”
Following the arrests of the four officers implicated in George Floyd’s death, lots of attention has turned to finding justice for Breonna Taylor, a Louisville, Kentucky, EMT who was killed by police in March after a no-knock warrant was issued for where her and her boyfriend lived after the man officers said they were looking for, who lived in a different part of the city, was already in custody. On Tuesday, one of the three officers involved, Brett Hankison, was fired, with the other two placed on administrative leave. No arrests have been made.
“These rounds created a substantial danger of death and serious injury to Breonna Taylor and the three occupants of the apartment next to Ms. Taylor’s,” wrote Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Robert J. Schroeder in a statement. “Based upon my review, these are extreme violations of our policies. I find your conduct a shock to the conscience.”
McCoughtry mentioned Taylor specifically to Newsweek.
“Some players in other sports are doing similar Black Lives Matter messages and that’s great,” she explained. “I just think if the league gave us the option to replace a name with Breonna Taylor to highlight her and help continue to promote her name, maybe that can lead to justice for her.”
Angel McCoughtry also announced she will be playing in the 2020 campaign at the same time, opposite to how others in the league have responded to the current movement sweeping America. Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery said she will sit out this year to focus on social justice, the first player to voluntarily opt out of playing after the WNBA outlined its plans for the 2020 season.
Four other players have since declared they will not play in 2020. LaToya Sanders of the Washington Mystics and Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun made the call because of COVID-19. For ‘Stics guard Natasha Cloud and Dream guard Tiffany Hayes, maintaining focus on social justice reform was the reason.
Cloud’s decision comes after her strongly worded “Your Silence Is a Knee on My Neck” article published by The Players’ Tribune on May 30. She has been one of the loudest voices from the WNBA since the Floyd killing and the protests it sparked.
“We respect and support Natasha’s decision to prioritize her life and goals,” Mystics head coach Mike Thibault told Diamond Hamilton of Bullets Forever. “Her commitment to social justice issues is of utmost importance to her and, therefore, to the Mystics organization. We will continue to be partners with her and all of our players on their commitment to social justice reform as we go forward into this season and beyond.”