UPDATED: An Open Letter to Senator Kelly Loeffler: It’s Time to divest from the Atlanta Dream

Senator Loeffler continues to sound off on sports and politics…

Senator Loeffler, you utter the phrase “cancel culture” like it’s a bad thing. Need I remind you that this phrase is centered around both capitalism AND freedom of speech? Two components Republicans seem to staunchly support, unless it goes against whatever (corrupt) morals they think they have.

That the Atlanta Dream (@AtlantaDream) had to put out a statement, signed by all 12 ACTIVE members and the two that are not active this year (Renee Montgomery @ItsReneeM_ and Tiffany Hayes @TipHayes3) to counter your bloviating ignorance, Madame Senator, tells me you continue to make this issue about yourself, and how the Dream are now having to actually proactively distance themselves from you.

The pressure is going to continue to ramp up the more you keep speaking on things while still remaining an owner of an WNBA franchise.

I call upon you, Madame Senator, to fully divest yourself from the Atlanta Dream as a co-owner. You truly are out of touch with the issues that are important to the Dream players, the Black Lives Matter movement and everything it actually stands for.

Original Story below, posted 2020/07/05
An Open Letter to Senator Kelly Loeffler: It’s Time to divest from the Atlanta Dream, due to so many conflicts in philosophies between your political career and what the (now PLAYER driven) WNBA stands for, as a whole.

Before I delve into my concerns/issues, it’s important to remind everyone that approximately 2/3 of WNBA rosters are comprised of Black women, and that several are either out or very active within LBGTQ+ causes (as am I; I even have one tattoo with “PRIDE” in rainbow colors).

Dear Madame Senator,

Before I get started on why you need to resign, I want to make you aware that I am speaking to you as:

  • The son of a retired Sheriff Deputy (26+ years), the grandson of a police officer, the brother-in-law and cousin-in-law (twice, including a current NYPD Detective) of law enforcement;
  • The father of a Black daughter (Active Duty Navy with 8+ years in);
  • The father of a biracial son (who volunteered his time feeding anyone and everyone in Seattle’s CHOP), who is also a member of the LBGTQ+ community;
  • The son of two Moms;
  • The husband of an incredible Black woman;
  • The great-grandson of a Jewish man who immigrated from Russia in the early 1900s;
  • Someone who can also trace his own family history back to the 1660s
  • Someone who has been fortunate to have strong, intelligent, empowered women throughout most of his life;
  • Someone who (foolishly) dropped out of school, obtained his G.E.D. and places a high value on a PROPER quality education, with an emphasis on American and World history (not the white-washed version currently taught in public and most private schools).

I am the quintessential American citizen and you are (unfortunately) one of my two Senators. I speak to you, not as a member of the media (Sports), but as an American exercising his right under Amendment 1. I’ve been mentally writing this letter ever since it was announced that you would be Johnny Isakson’s replacement for representing the State of Georgia.

I speak to you, from my heart, focused specifically as to why you must sell 100% of your share of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream.

First, some quotes…

“I haven’t spent my life trying to get to Washington. But here’s what folks are gonna find out about me: I’m a lifelong conservative. Pro-Second Amendment. Pro-military. Pro-wall. And pro-Trump,” she said. “I make no apologies for my conservative values, and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.”
Source: CBSNews.com

“Well, Ed, this is totally unacceptable, we cannot allow mob rule,” Loeffler replied, as more scary images of Black people holding guns appeared next to her. “We’re a nation of the rule of law, and this is exactly what will happen if we defund the police, and this is exactly what the Democrats want to do. They have a move to defund, to dismantle law enforcement.”

Source: Interview with Fox News’ Ed Hardy

“In fact, I think we need to provide more resources to the police. I think we need to give them the tools that they need to do for their jobs, which are increasingly complex. … It’s troubling what you see in Seattle, the lawlessness, the takeover, you know, of multiple blocks of a city.”

“So, you know, let’s get back to having the discussion we need to have about police brutality, let’s get back to the law and order that we need to have in our country so that we can have the dialogue we want to have.”

Source: MDJOnline.com

First, you claim to be 100% Pro-Second Amendment, but then are on a live interview on network TV, calling three black men “mob rule” for exercising their constitutionally protected Second Amendment right, in a state that is Open Carry. But let’s table that, for now…

Second, you claim to be Pro-Military, yet I don’t see you making ANY kind of a statement about Vanessa Guillen (the Fort Hood soldier found murdered and dismembered, as a result of her trying to push forward with sexual assault charges against her C.O.). Nor have you made a statement about Russia paying bounties for the murder of American and Coalition service members. These are the people that DEFEND the United States Constitution… a document YOU swore to uphold. And yet, you continue to remain SILENT on both of these issues. But this isn’t necessarily a point that needs to be made (even though there are two issues (person of color murdered, sexual assault victim murdered). So, we’ll table this, as well, for now…

Third, interesting that I found a thread on a forum (Republican leaning, pro-second amendment) where people are questioning the validity of your political views. Not to mention that you’ve actually contributed to Democrat candidates in the past, have supported PP, and more. It’s even been suggested that you are a RINO (Republican in name, only). Source

None of that really matters. It just means that you are a hypocrite and seem to do things for vanity reasons. The more I read, the more I’ve come to the realization that your ownership stake in the Atlanta Dream is also for vanity reasons… a way for you to get a modicum of respect; a way for you to get an ounce of name recognition. But that’s still not enough reason nor justification for you to divest yourself of your ownership.

Let’s delve into the reason why you need to be removed from having any affiliation/association with the Dream.

Short, sweet and simple:

You’ve hooked your wagon onto the Trump Train.

You’ve embraced and endorsed his policies. You’re spouting the party line (MAGA, KAG and now, America First). By aligning yourself with Trump and toeing the company line, lock, stock and barrel.

Trump’s draconian policies, edicts, lies, executive orders and directives have divided this country beyond comparison. Trump has targeted People of Color (Muslim, Hispanic, Black), the LGBTQ+ community, the disabled community (of which I am a part of), and Americans as a whole (healthcare and consumer protection policies, as well as financial policies).

Let’s focus on the Black and LGBTQ+ communities, since this is centered around why you no longer deserve to have any involvement with the WNBA, at any level.

Given the fact that the WNBA roster is 2/3 Black women and that several are part of the LGBTQ+ community or ardent supporters, your own political career is contradictory to the systemic racism that is present in every day life.  Between the Police brutality and murders taking place, the continual reallocation of tax dollars to law enforcement, rather than community-based programs and education, the removal of the Voter Rights Act and gerrymandering YOUR party is known for, your political actions now run 100% contradictory to the WNBA’s Player-led initiatives and goals.

The entire criminal justice system is broken. From the people WE pay to “protect” us, to those that are tasked with prosecuting criminals. If you have about a half hour, watch this video of Hassan Minhaj discussing “The Broken Policing System”. Black men and women tend to face stiffer fines and penalties than their non-Black counterparts. Even a simple misdemeanor of possession of marijuana carries a max sentence recommendation for Black folks, whereas if it were me, I’d probably get my hand smacked, a fine and some community service.

Perhaps you remember an incredible woman by the name of Maya Moore, who took the 2019 season off, so she could focus on getting Jonathan Irons out of prison. She’s doing the same thing for someone else this year.

Yes, the police absolutely need to be defunded. Yes, there needs to be a national Police Abuse database. Yes, Police Unions need to have much of their power stripped away, so that accountability can begin. Qualified Immunity needs to be removed.

When we say “defund the police”, we are not talking about taking the law into our own hands. We’re talking about taking financial resources away from police budgets and putting it towards education, towards youth programs, towards community-based policing, towards sending the RIGHT people in for the right situation.

In our own back yard (metro Atlanta), Anthony Hill, Jr. was killed by a cop (March, 2015). A cop gets maybe 5 hours of training on how to deal with people who have mental issues. Had the resources been re-allocated properly, a social worker, a Psyhologist or a Psychiatrist could’ve been dispatched… you know, someone that actually has more than a certificate of training completion… someone who actually KNOWS how to work with someone who has mental issues.

In Florida, a mental health therapist was shot in the leg. The cop was aiming for his patient, Arnaldo Rios Soto (developmentally disabled, non verbal). In that situation, you HAD an expert present that was trying to get the cops to understand what the situation was.

Getting back to the point… we’re not talking about eliminating law enforcement. Far from it. But the whole concept, which has not changed since its inception, is no longer working. It’s no longer “Protect and Serve”. It’s all bout “fear” and ACT QUICKLY based policing.

In Germany, cops are trained and taught to diffuse a situation first, use NON LETHAL force second, and lethal force as a last resort.

Let’s also not forget that just about anyone can go through the training… and that extensive background checks (beyond just a criminal background check) are often not performed. We’ve seen multiple reports where KKK members have joined the police force, literally giving them legal justification to carry out murders.

What the community wants is for less funding of police, so that we can put it towards youth programs at various parks (vastly underfunded and reliant on donations – trust me, I know. I am the volunteer photographer for the East Atlanta Kids Club Brownwood Bicycle Rally and have been for several years), putting more money towards education and other community improvement programs, taking care of the homeless and better care of veterans. Anytime law enforcement holds their hand out, they get money. That money comes from these other programs.

Studies have shown Community-based Policing WORKS (source #1, source #2). Trevor Noah had a round-table discussion about how best to go about changing things by defunding the police. I suggest you watch this, as well.

WNBA players are tired of seeing innocent and unarmed (or legally armed) people being murdered, unfairly.

Many of them are part of the Black Lives Matter revolution (and have been for quite some time). As you know, Renee Montgomery opted out this year, so she could make sure to hydrate and feed BLM Protesters, and do more for the Atlanta community she loves. Natasha Cloud is taking this year off to focus on Social issues, as well. There are many more that are doing the same, including Tiffany Hayes.

And, yet, here you are, Madame Senator… wanting to give the police even MORE money. When many of your own constituents are trying to get the message through your head that there’s TOO MUCH policing being done.

I hate to have to agree with the TRKL website people, but you truly are out of touch with what Georgians want.

Circling back to my next point… your usage of “America First” and supporting the individual driving that train. Do you even REALIZE that this phrase has strong ties to the Ku Klux Klan, dating back to the 1920s?

Congratulations, Senator, you jubilantly uttered a phrase that alienates at least 2/3 of the WNBA roster. Given that so much of the Black Lives Matter movement is centered around ending racism, you’re knowingly riding one of the most racist trains in modern history.

Your current political choices and decisions are 100% contrary to the Player-led initiatives the WNBA, as a whole, endorse.

It’s nothing more than a vanity “object”, so you can feel better about your status, personally and professionally. You are not in touch with what is important to the employees of your organization.

It is time for you to fully divest yourself of any and all activity involving the WNBA, Madame Senator.

Featured Photo Source: Senator Kelly Loeffler’s Twitter page

OP/ED Note: Since it was announced by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp that Kelly Loeffler would take over as Johnny Isakson’s replacement as Georgia’s Senator, I’ve been sitting on oh-so-many thoughts. As someone who really enjoyed covering the Atlanta Dream last year, I’ve been afraid that if I were to speak my thoughts on this, for fear of losing the ability to get credentialed as a photographer for the Dream.

I still am concerned that I won’t be allowed to work another Atlanta Dream game. I’m hoping I can convey why I’m sounding off about this, and why I’m willing to risk being “blacklisted”. The last thing I want to do is be a Negative Nancy when it comes to the Atlanta Dream; there are some fantastic people doing incredible things (shout out to Renee Montgomery and Tiffany Hayes) off the court to better their communities. The Atlanta Dream organization, as a whole, has been a TRUE Atlanta organization, driven by many community initiatives.