Monday, July 13th, 2020

Mystics owners, Monumental Sports, unveil a slate of social justice initiatives that includes a call for police reform

Published on June 18, 2020

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With many WNBA players at the forefront of athlete-led social activism movements, the parent company of the Washington Mystics, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, announced the launch of a program to combat social inequality and to address police brutality. Mystics guard Natasha Cloud, is among the most vocal WNBA athletes in the movement and wrote an essay outlining her views on systemic racism and recently participated in a protest in Philadelphia.

Today, Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery announced that she would sit out the season to focus on social justice initiatives. Plans for the truncated season include a 22-game slate set to begin in late July in a bubble-environment in Bradenton, Florida, as a way to protect players from COVID-19.

In contrast, a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), has voiced, on several occasions, her opposition and outright hostility to actions around the country that bring light to issues of police brutality. In fact, just hours after Montgomery announced her decision, Loeffler began to post her viewpoints on Twitter including a quote from one of her supporters criticizing protestors. She was appointed to the Senate in December to fill a vacant seat. She will face an election in November.

On the other hand, Monumental Sports added police reform to their platform, in part a response to recent murders of Black Americans by police officers.

“MSE understands its role as a convener and believes it can join the voices of athletes, whom are engaged in deep advocacy on their platforms, its staff and its assets to host constructive dialogues, foster greater awareness and understanding, and force accountability to eliminate police brutality and achieve greater social justice. This commitment is both short term and long term, starting with initiatives that articulate immediate, specific calls-to-action. But it will also be part of MSE’s deeper, systemic work over the years to come.”

The full release from Monumental Sports:

Mystics and Wizards-Led March

Athletes from the Washington Mystics and Wizards are organizing a demonstration with other professional athletes to draw attention to the issues of police brutality and systemic social injustices, with full support from the MSE organization. They will march to honor the memory of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others, and call for specific actions to advance the cause. Beginning at Capital One Arena, they will assemble and process to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on Juneteenth, Friday, June 19, 2020. Moving forward, Juneteenth will also be honored by the MSE organization as a day devoted to conversations and reflections to acknowledge the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth commemorates the day, June 19, 1865, that Union troops notified enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, of their freedom, over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

New Employee Match Program to Fundraise for Social Justice Causes

MSE has announced an employee-match program for donations to nonprofit organizations advancing policing policy reforms and social justice causes. For each $1 a member of staff wishes to donate, Ted Leonsis, through his private Leonsis Family Foundation, will match the commitment. Additionally, the MSE ownership group would also match the commitment. So, an employee spending $1 would result in a $3 donation to the nonprofit of their choice.

Advocacy for Policing Reform Policy

MSE understands its role as a convener and believes it can join the voices of athletes, whom are engaged in deep advocacy on their platforms, its staff and its assets to host constructive dialogues, foster greater awareness and understanding, and force accountability to eliminate police brutality and achieve greater social justice. This commitment is both short term and long term, starting with initiatives that articulate immediate, specific calls-to-action. But it will also be part of MSE’s deeper, systemic work over the years to come.

Social Impact Partnerships on Policing Reform and Voting

Through MSE’s Social Impact department, MSE selects one nonprofit each month to highlight their extremely valuable community work and invites players, fans, and staff to participate in their efforts. Additionally, MSE utilizes its assets (video boards, social media accounts, fan e-newsletters, in-arena and broadcast media interviews, etc.) to increase awareness on that nonprofit’s issues, encourage volunteering, and provides grants and solicits donations for that nonprofit beneficiary. Moving forward, together with our athletes, MSE will select two nonprofits each season, one dedicated to addressing police brutality and the other to voting and will organize specialized programming with players and fans on those topics.

Voting Activation

The ultimate accountability for any policy prescriptions is voting. MSE will work with our athletes and staff to promote the importance of voting: the rights every citizen should exercise and how to cast their ballots. At MSE, we are designating all federal, general election days to be a company-wide, paid day off. In addition, we recognize that elections within local jurisdictions vary. So, any employee residing within a jurisdiction which holds a general election falling outside of the federal election calendar will have an additional paid day off to cast their ballot.

Through a focused communications campaign, utilizing marketing assets, hosting events, and providing consistent messaging, MSE is committed to doing its part to increase registration, education, and turnout in all elections. This includes municipal, regional, and federal elections throughout DC, Virginia, and Maryland, as well as in the hometown markets of our athletes.

Communications Campaign

MSE’s Marketing and Communications departments are identifying resources and opportunities to provide educational materials, will promote specific calls-to-action, and will issue on-going public reporting on its efforts so fans and the general public can identify ways to get involved and remain committed to the cause.


 

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