WNBPA Addresses Racial Injustice, Demands 'Strong Leadership at All Levels'

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The WNBA players association issued a statement on Friday regarding the ongoing protests and recent cases of "senseless brutality that we have seen in different parts" of the United States. 

"As others, including Minneapolis Mayor [Jacob] Frey, have said so powerfully, 'to get to a point of healing, we first need to stop the bleeding. We must stop the trauma,'" the WNBPA said. 

"Through peaceful protest, we must demand strong leadership at all levels that is equally committed to achieving true social justice.

"For Ahmaud Arbery, Breanna Taylor, George Floyd and far too many other women, men, children."

The timing of the players association's statement comes as protests have broken out in recent days around the United States. 

On Monday evening, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after being violently apprehended by Minneapolis police. Four Minneapolis police officers were fired on Tuesday after a viral video showed one of them kneeling on the neck of Floyd, 46, who cried that he could not breathe.

On Friday, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was was seen on video kneeling on Floyd's neck, was arrested on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter. An investigation is ongoing regarding the other officers involved in Floyd's death.

In February, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed by two white men as he jogged in southern Georgia. Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT in Louisville, Kentucky, was killed in March when police raided her home and shot her.

In recent days, Floyd's death has sparked a wave of reaction from other members of the sports world. Many athletes' statements have shared an image of the Minneapolis Police Department's treatment of Floyd next to a photo of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of police brutality during the 2016 NFL season.

On Friday, Kaepernick's charitable arm, the Know Your Rights Camp, launched an initiative to hire top defense lawyers for people arrested protesting police brutality in the Minneapolis area.

Former NBA player Stephen Jackson also led a press conference in Minneapolis regarding the death of George Floyd, where he said, "I’m here because they’re not gonna demean the character of George Floyd, my twin. ... I'm hurt, I'm angry, but I ain't scared."

Earlier in the week, the Lynx released a statement on the death of Floyd. 

“Our community is grieving the senseless tragedy and death of George Floyd," the team said. "The entire Timberwolves and Lynx organization shares its deepest sympathy with the Floyd family. We will work tirelessly to use our voices to influence change, encourage healing, and promote thoughtful action as we move forward.”