Co-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., slammed her Democratic rival, the Rev. Raphael Warnock who leads the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, for not rejecting the Black Lives Matter movement which she says in part is seeking the “removal of Jesus from churches.”
“I’m calling for unity around the American flag — the ultimate symbol of freedom. I’m calling for rejection of a movement that promotes violence, attacks police, & embraces anti-Semitism. Who’s really on the wrong side of history, @ReverendWarnock? Sounds like it’s you. #gapol,” Loeffler tweeted Wednesday after Warnock accused her of giving in to “narrow impulses of tribalism and bigotry” for criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement.
In response to the WNBA's approving the display of Black Lives Matter prominently on courts at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where the league will hold its season, Loeffler told WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in a letter that she opposes Black Lives Matter and asked that an American flag be placed on every jersey when play resumes later this month, ESPN reported.
"I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement, which has advocated for the defunding of police, called for the removal of Jesus from churches and the disruption of the nuclear family structure, harbored anti-Semitic views, and promoted violence and destruction across the country. I believe it is totally misaligned with the values and goals of the WNBA and the Atlanta Dream, where we support tolerance and inclusion,” Loeffler wrote.
"Though I was not consulted about — nor do I agree with the League's decision in this matter, I am proposing a common-sense recommendation to ensure we reflect the values of freedom and equality for all," she added. "I believe we should put an American flag on every jersey. Include it in our licensed apparel for players, coaches and fans."
She argued that the decision to display Black Lives Matter on the courts of the WNBA was politicizing the sport which should be "unifying antidote" for fans.
"The truth is, we need less — not more politics in sports. In a time when polarizing politics is as divisive as ever, sports has the power to be a unifying antidote. And now more than ever, we should be united in our goal to remove politics from sports,” she wrote.
Warnock, who is challenging Loeffler for her senate seat along with 20 other candidates in a special election in November, accused her of being on the wrong side of history.
“Instead of standing on the right side of history with the many leaders in the sports and business community, like the WNBA and NASCAR, Senator Kelly Loeffler has, unfortunately, chosen to give into the narrow impulses of tribalism and bigotry. The Black Lives Matter movement is an effort to give voice to the very real problem of injustice in our country. While we urge peaceful demonstrations, the pain in the Black community is still real and demands to be heard, no matter how inconvenient for Kelly Loeffler,” Warner said in a statement to CP that was also posted in a Twitter thread.
“It should come as no surprise that the same person who seemed more concerned with her stock portfolio and economic interests in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic would now be focused on her political interests. This is nothing more than an effort to sow division and out-Trump Doug Collins. While we’re seeing an amazing outpouring of Americans across this country standing up – a multi-racial coalition of people – lifting up the value of human life, Kelly and Doug are playing politics,” he continued in his post.
Loeffler, who was recently cleared of alleged insider trading ahead of the coronavirus pandemic by the Senate Ethics Committee, and Rep. Doug Collins, an ordained chaplain in the Air Force Reserve, are the two leading Republican senate candidates in Georgia.
A number of star WNBA players like Sue Bird have voiced their opposition to Loeffler being involved with the Dream. Others, like Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud, tweeted "get her weak a** out of the league."
In a statement released Tuesday, the WNBA said Loeffler is "no longer involved in the day-to-day business" of the Dream. It further noted that Loeffler "has not served as a Governor of the Atlanta Dream" since October 2019.
"The WNBA is based on the principle of equal and fair treatment of all people and we, along with the teams and players, will continue to use our platforms to vigorously advocate for social justice," Engelbert said.