Britney Griner supporters continue to stand their ground after plea

For the first time in a long time, Terry Jackson, executive director of the WNBA Players Union, had her hopes up for Britney Griner.

Griner’s wife Sherel Griner was on the phone with President Biden. and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday morning. That evening, Jackson attended a Britney Griner rally at the Footprint Center in Phoenix. It was organized by the Phoenix Mercury and Representative Greg Stanton, D-Arizona, with hundreds of Greener supporters.

“It was emotional, it was a celebration, it was a new hope and a new spirit,” Jackson said. “And yet we are very mindful that we are not close to the end.”

Jackson performed Thursday afternoon, hours after Britney Griner. pleaded guilty to drug charges in the suburban court. Griner, the Mercury star, has been in Russian custody since February. A 17-year-old accused of carrying hash oil in her luggage at a Russian airport. Her drug trial started July 1. But despite her guilty plea Thursday, the support she has received from her representatives, friends, family, teammates and others has not waned.

“I think that made us more determined to show her our support and recognize that the Russian process is her own process,” Jackson said. “This is not at all what we have. Still, try to keep hope that there is some progress in her return home.”

Griner’s agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, called Griner “example of courage“In a statement on Twitter on Thursday.

“BG’s service as a spokesperson for Olympic and world sport, caring for those most in need has always set her apart; but BG is also a person whose family misses her,” said Kagawa Kolas. “She deserves our compassion, understanding, love and support.”

Representative Colin Allred, a Texas Democrat who worked to free Griner, called for bail in response to her plea, calling her prosecution “fictitious court“On Twitter.

“Remember that we should not draw serious conclusions from this and that she was wrongfully detained in the first place,” Allred said.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert released a statement Thursday afternoon.

“Britney Griner is still illegally detained in Russia and nothing that happened today will change what happened 140 days later,” Engelbert said. She added, “She has the wholehearted and unconditional support of the entire WNBA and NBA family, who are looking forward to her safe return.”

The US State Department announced for the first time that Griner was classified as “illegally detainedIn May, he said he would try to negotiate her release, regardless of the outcome of the trial.

Thursday a Russian diplomat suggested to reporters in Moscow that the public uproar over Griner’s release, which he attributed to the Biden administration, was detrimental to the deal.

However, Griner’s supporters have long believed that bringing public attention to her situation is necessary to get the attention of the Biden administration. After the State Department found Griner wrongfully detained, her closest supporters began to casually draw attention to her detention. Many fans have been active since February.

Since early May, Kagawa Kolas has joined the Griner family, the WNBA and its players union, and the Mercury to start #WeAreBG advocacy campaign. Several WNBA and NBA players began speaking out about Griner’s situation. The NBA’s Boston Celtics wore #WeAreBG t-shirts during one of their NBA Finals practices.

In June Kagawa Kolas cooperates with dozens of organizations who represent people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ community to send a letter to Biden and Harris urging them to make a deal to bring Griner home.

On Thursday, the WNBA players’ union released a statement identifying the organization as one of those groups.

“The administration needs to know that this powerful collective is behind them and is supporting whatever needs to be done to bring B.G., Paul Whelan, and other detained U.S. citizens home immediately,” the statement said.

Whelan is a former US Marine. detained in Russia since 2018. He was convicted of espionage in a Russian court in 2020.

This weekend, the WNBA will host the All-Star Game and other competitions in Chicago. It’s an annual celebration of the league’s top players, and Griner has been selected to the All-Star Game seven times. The League named her an honorary All-Star on Sunday.

“Sends a very, very strong signal from the league, recognizing that we’re missing not only one of the game’s biggest and brightest stars, but someone who’s just really important to us outside of this game,” Jackson said.

Before the game, Rev. Al Sharpton announced that he will hold a press conference in Chicago on Friday with Sherel Griner, Jackson and Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, who is president of the players union.

“Britney has admitted her mistake and I hope the Russian authorities recognize this humiliating act and respond with compassion,” Sharpton said in a statement. “Now she is fighting for her life, so we will be in Chicago to show our support for Britney and the administration and their efforts to bring her home as soon as possible. We must all continue to pray that she finds strength during this difficult time.”

The WNBA Players Union sometimes refers to its membership as The 144, a reference to the 12 players on each of the league’s 12 teams. Jackson noted that the All-Star Game would take place on the 143rd day of Griner’s detention.

“It reminds us all — at least for those of us involved in this frustrating day counting process — it reminds us that we are not 144 without Britney Greener,” Jackson said. She added: “The symbolism of this has not escaped the notice of any of us.”