Players on the WNBA team co-owned by Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler and other WNBA teams were seen wearing “Vote Warnock” shirts in support of her Senate challenger before their games on Tuesday.
Elizabeth Williams, a center on the Atlanta Dream, posted a photo of herself wearing the black T-shirt with bold white text in a tweet, quoting the late civil rights icon and longtime Georgia Rep. John Lewis and encouraging others to support Raphael Warnock, a Democrat running for Loeffler’s seat.
“We are @wnba players, but like the late, great John Lewis said, we are also ordinary people with extraordinary vision,” Williams wrote. “@ReverendWarnock has spent his life fighting for the people and we need him in Washington. Join the movement for a better Georgia at http://Warnockforgeorgia.com”
In a statement Tuesday, Loeffler slammed the WNBA for participating in what she called “cancel culture,” pointing to her prior opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“This is just more proof that the out of control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them,” she said. “It’s clear that the league is more concerned with playing politics than basketball.”
The move isn’t the first sign of tension between the senator and the league, nor Loeffler and the Dream.
The organization distanced itself from Loeffler last month following her objection to the WNBA’s plans to honor the Black Lives Matter movement. Days later, the Dream’s players jointly signed a statement supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, which they asserted is a “statement of humanity” rather than a political position.
Loeffler has faced scrutiny in part because of a letter she wrote, obtained by CNN and first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and ESPN, that warned the WNBA that “to subscribe to a particular political agenda undermines the potential of the sport and sends a message of exclusion.” Her donors have since responded, with Sony saying it was re-evaluating its support for her campaign and Target saying it disagreed with her.
Players on other teams wore the “Vote Warnock” shirts as well. The Phoenix Mercury, which faced off against the Dream on Tuesday, posted photos and videos to the team’s Twitter account that showed players during pre-game wearing the same Warnock shirts, as well as Black Lives Matter shirts.
“Don’t boo…VOTE,” the Chicago Sky tweeted above photos of multiple team players wearing the Warnock shirts, with a link to register to vote.
Warnock said in a statement Tuesday that he was “proud to stand with” the players, highlighting “their courage and resolve” while accusing Loeffler of muzzling those seeking justice.
“Senator Loeffler and those like her who seek to silence and dismiss others when they speak up for justice have planted themselves on the wrong side of history,” Warnock added. “We are in a moment of generational, transformative change, and there is no place in that movement for bigotry.”
CNN’s Jill Martin, Alex Rogers, Allison Gordon and Dan Merica contributed to this report.