Indiana Fever players knelt together and locked arms in protest during the national anthem ahead of Wednesday’s playoff game.
The Fever chose to follow suit with the growing protests of racial injustice and police violence sparked by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Every player opted not to stand during the playing of the anthem, in solidarity.
Two players on the opposing Phoenix Mercury also chose to kneel.
The team’s decision comes in wake of two more recent police shootings. Black men Terrence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott were killed by police officers in Tulsa, Okla. and Charlotte, N.C. this week.
Marissa Coleman of the Fever posted on Facebook why she decided to take a knee:
“I have close family friends that have served this country. My brother in law fought for this country. My boyfriend was in the navy. My dad is a retired police officer. I would never disrespect them or devalue their service. My question is, why is it when you stand for something it is automatically assumed you're against the opposite?? It makes no sense to me. I promise it is humanely possible and okay to be for Black Lives Matter, still support the hard working and dedicated officers and know that all lives matter. I promise it's humanly possible to take a knee to spark conversations/bring awareness and still support our troops. I promise. You should try it. The bigger disrespect to this country and those who fight for it is staying silent on these issues that plague African-Americans and people of color.
"It is easy to sit behind a phone or keyboard and tell me I'm a bad American, or if I hate it so much I should leave. That's easy. That only takes 140 characters or less. Standing up for change (or in this case kneeling), that takes courage. Instead of jumping to conclusions and believing us taking a knee is a direct disrespect to our troops and those who have fought for our freedom, why not ASK myself or my teammate what our end goals and purposes are. IT'S THAT SIMPLE.
"A woman came up to my teammates and I while we were at dinner last night and politely asked us, 'I just want to know if your taking a knee means you don't support our troops? What was the purpose.' She wasn't angry nor were we. You know what happened? A healthy and informative dialogue between us all. We explained ourselves, she listened, really listened and walked away saying 'Thank you for explaining everything, I get it now.' Goal accomplished: conversation started."
The game’s broadcast showed Fever head coach Stephanie White commending her players on the bench immediately for taking a stance in unison.
The Mercury beat the Fever 89–78 in Game 1 of their WNBA conference semifinals series.