Why They’re Protesting

MLS players in their own words on why they didn’t play soccer last night.

Yesterday afternoon, the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the floor for Game 5 of a first-round NBA playoff series. Some people called it a “boycott,” but nobody was refusing to buy basketball. Others called it a “wildcat strike,” but this wasn’t a labor dispute. It was an act of social protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, sparked by video of a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shooting a black man named Jacob Blake seven times in the back as he tried to get into his vehicle. Three of Blake’s children were in the back seat.

Within hours, the athletes’ protest had spread. The NBA cancelled all of its games scheduled for last night. MLB and WNBA games were called off, too. Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber issued a statement condemning racism but declined to delay a kickoff between Orlando City and Nashville, so Atlanta United and Inter Miami players took it upon themselves to stop their game. After other squads followed suit, the league issued a followup statement that “Major League Soccer has made the decision to postpone the remaining five matches.”

As LAFC’s Mark Anthony Kaye pointed out, the league had done no such thing. It was MLS players who made the decision not to play games last night. Here are some of those players explaining the reasons for their protest.

Image: Kara Walker, Slaughter of the Innocents (They Might Be Guilty of Something)