Georgia GOP Senator, Critic of Black Lives Matter Movement, Says She Has No Plans to Sell WNBA Team

Republican Senator and Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler has been a frequent critic of the Black Lives Matter movement. But even amid recent protests from WNBA teams following the Jacob Blake shooting incident, Loeffler has said that she won't sell the team.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Georgia senator criticized players for refusing to play. "Walking away from that moment prevents us from having those important dialogues," she said after a rally on Friday.

When asked if she'd consider taking on investors, Loeffler has been adamant that she'll continue to be an owner for the team. "It's very important we have conservative voices in sports, people that are willing to speak out and stand up for what's right for our country," she said.

In comments that echoed her previous statements about the Black Lives Matter movement staying out of sports, Loeffler also said that the movement was divisive. "I don't think they have a place in sports," she said. "Sports need to be about unity and bringing us together."

As reported by ESPN, Loeffler said she differentiates the "statement" Black Lives Matter from "the organization," which she stated "advocates things like defunding and abolishing the police, abolishing our military, emptying our prisons, destroying the nuclear family. It promotes violence and antisemitism. To me, this is not what our league stands for."

Newsweek reached out to Loeffler's campaign and Senate office for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

This isn't the first time that the WNBA owner and senator has spoken out against players protesting. In July, Loeffler wrote a letter to WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert following a decision that allowed players to wear "Say Her Name" and "Black Lives Matter" symbols on their uniforms.

Loeffler's letter again called for "unity," as previously reported. "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," she wrote.

Her outspoken criticism has drawn rebuttals both from players and the organization itself. Atlanta Dream player Renee Montgomery, who opted to sit out this season, wrote an open letter on Medium to Loeffler, criticizing what the senator wrote to the commissioner and vowing to stay with the movement.

"Senator Loeffler, with or without you, we will continue this movement because it's bigger than me or you," Montgomery wrote. "I kindly invite you to rethink your stance and join a discussion with me. While you might very well be on the 'right' side of this November's elections, you are on the wrong side of history if you can't see that Black Lives Matter."

After much thought, I've decided to opt out of the 2020 WNBA season. There's work to be done off the court in so many areas in our community. Social justice reform isn't going to happen overnight but I do feel that now is the time and Moments equal Momentum. Lets keep it going!

— Renee Montgomery (@itsreneem_) June 18, 2020

The players also penned a statement, supporting Black Lives Matter, which was later posted to the team's official Twitter account. In early August, Bleacher Report's Twitter account shared video of Dream players wearing T-shirts that said "Vote Warnock," encouraging people to elect Democratic candidate Reverend Raphael Warnock against Loeffler.

Glory Johnson’s signature was incorrectly left off of this statement. She contributed to it, stands by it and her signature should also be at the end of it.

— Atlanta Dream (@AtlantaDream) July 11, 2020

Dream and Mercury players are wearing “Vote Warnock” shirts to their game today.

Raphael Warnock is running against Kelly Loeffler for Senate. Loeffler is a co-owner of the Dream and said she opposes the Black Lives Matter movement.

(via @sportsiren)

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 4, 2020
Atlanta Dream
The Atlanta Dream walk by the Black Lives Matter graphic on the court following a 100-70 loss to the Las Vegas Aces at Feld Entertainment Center on July 29, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida. Getty/Julio Aguilar