NWSL’s Red Stars honor victims of police brutality on warmups

The Chicago Red Stars closed out their Challenge Cup preliminary-round games by honoring victims of police brutality on their warmup shirts.

They are the first team and league to recognize people, such as Breonna Taylor, who have been killed by police.

Red Stars honor victims of police brutality

The idea came from a conversation between defender Sarah Gorden, a Chicago native, and Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler, Annie Costabile of the Chicago Sun-Times reported. They made a list of victims to honor and decided to honor those from Chicago and women.

Taylor’s name was on eight warmup shirts in reference to the number of times she was shot by police while sleeping in her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky, in March. Gorden, 27, chose to have the name of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old who was killed in Cleveland, in part because of her own son, Caiden, who was born in 2014.

“I have a Black son,” Gorden said, via the Sun-Times. “So Tamir’s case has a very special place in my heart.”

The Red Stars won, 1-0, on a goal by Casey Short in the 85th minute.

NWSL proactive in Black Lives Matter statements

The Chicago Red Stars honored victims of police brutality with their warmup shirts on Sunday. (Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

The NWSL was the first U.S. professional sports league to return during the pandemic, hitting the pitch in Utah beginning in late June. The North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns began the tournament by kneeling during the national anthem and wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts and armbands.

Teams that followed, including the Red Stars, continued the momentum and took a knee.

Gorden, Casey Short and Julie Ertz spearheaded a fundraiser to go along with Sunday’s match called “Pass it on” to benefit “Get Yo Mind Right” in Chicago. It’s a free mental wellness non-profit therapy service for low income communities.

Gorden is also working to form a Black players coalition in the NWSL, a movement taken on by Sky Blue FC’s Midge Purce per CBS Sports. The first MLS Black Players Coalition was formed last month and announced on Juneteenth.

Leagues focusing on social justice

In MLS, the New York Red Bulls kicked off the MLS is Back tournament by wearing patches with the name of a person, organization or initiative related to the Black Lives Matter movement or the COVID-19 pandemic.

Players in the WNBA will wear uniforms dedicated to women and girls who, the league said, are “forgotten victims of police brutality and racial violence.” The idea was first suggested by Las Vegas Aces addition Angel McCoughtry, who told Yahoo Sports it was to “plant the seed” for further reform.

The NBA initially considered the same idea, but instead gave players the option of choosing a social justice message from an approved list to put on their uniforms. The choices include “Freedom,” “How Many More,” “Equality” and “Vote.”

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