The Atlanta Dream players have responded to a letter written by one of the team's co-owners, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.). Early on Friday afternoon, the franchise released a statement, which was signed by all 14 players, and read:
"We are the women of the Atlanta Dream. We are women who support a movement. We are strong and we are fearless. We offer a voice to the voiceless. Our team is united in the movement for Black Lives. It is not extreme to demand change after centuries of inequality. This is not a political statement. This is a statement of humanity."
According to Greg Bluestein and Bria Felicien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Loeffler wrote a letter to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert asking the league to scrap plans for players to wear warmup jerseys that have the words "Black Lives Matter" and "Say Her Name" on them. Loeffler wrote that she would rather an American flag be on jerseys and team apparel.
Shortly after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article about the letter -- which included the note in its entirety -- the WNBA released a statement explaining that Loeffler is "no longer involved in the day-to-day business" of the Dream. The statement also revealed 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 in the statement.
The Republican senator said in her letter that a "particular political agenda undermines the potential of the sport and sends a message of exclusion."
"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," Loeffler, who faces a November special election against 20 other candidates, wrote. "And now more than ever, we should be united in our goal to remove politics from sports."
Loeffler claimed that no one from the WNBA league office reached out to her about the plan to put the particular phrases on warmup attire. The senator also claimed in the letter that protests around the country have birthed "lawless autonomous zones" in Atlanta and other metropolitan cities.
"I denounced these zones of violence -- for which I have been criticized," Loeffler wrote in her letter. "However, this same group fell silent over the fourth of July weekend when an 8-year-old girl was murdered under the 'mob rule' that I warned about days earlier. This is not a political movement that the league should be embracing, and I emphatically oppose it."
The WNBPA did not hold back on its feelings toward the senator, tweeting out a message of disagreement with the letter before the league released its statement:
Several WNBA star players have called for Loeffler to be removed as a co-owner of the Dream recently. Sue Bird voiced her opposition to Loeffler being involved with the Dream, while Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud tweeted "get her weak a-- out of the league."
In addition, Dream point guard Renee Montgomery, who already announced she will sit out the season in order to work on off-court initiatives focused on social justice, tweeted directly at Loeffler asking if she would be willing to sit down and discuss the matter further.
The WNBA plans to resume play with a tournament in Florida later this month and will be "centered around the 'Black Lives Matter' movement."