The Milwaukee Bucks landed the first haymaker in a day full of them, and in doing so revealed the horrific inactivity of the Wisconsin state legislature.
By now you’ve heard that the Milwaukee Bucks began Wednesday’s NBA playoffs slate in an unexpected way. While the Orlando Magic warmed up for their Game 5 matchup, there was no sign of the Bucks players.
The Bucks players never came out and the game was not played. Two more dominos fell that night when the players of the Houston Rockets and players of the Oklahoma City Thunder decided not to play their game, and the players of the Los Angeles Lakers and the players of the Portland Trail Blazers followed suit, choosing not to play their game either.
The players of the Milwaukee Bucks set off a chain reaction, the results of which may not be known for some time. Shortly after the players of the Bucks made it clear that they would not play, the players of the Milwaukee Brewers followed suit themselves.
The final straw for these players, the violent shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in front of his three children took place in Kenosha, Wisconsin, just a 40-mile drive down I-94 from Milwaukee. These things have a way of being personal, especially when they happen right in your own backyard.
Before the night was out, the players of the WNBA had postponed their Wednesday games, and the players of the Cincinnati Reds (the Brewers’ opponent), the players of the Seattle Mariners, the players of the San Diego Padres, the players of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the players of the San Francisco Giants had all opted out of playing their games.
And make no mistake, while these respective leagues will claim ‘postponement’, that’s not what this was. It was a walkout by players in support of something bigger than themselves in the pursuit of justice for Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and so many other Black victims of police violence.
While the players of the Milwaukee Bucks themselves may not have been sure what the end-game was for their walkout, one tangible thing that quickly presented itself was a conversation with Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.
Based on what they learned from this conversation, the players of the Bucks made their demand, led by George Hill:
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable,” Bucks guard George Hill said in a statement. “For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.”
When Hill refers to months of inaction from the Wisconsin State Legislature, he’s not just talking about on the topic of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.
During a pandemic. During some of the greatest racial upheaval spawning from police brutality that the United States has ever seen. And this doesn’t mean the legislature was meeting remotely on Zoom. No, this full-time legislative body has completely abdicated its responsibility to legislate.
It’s an embarrassment of colossal nature and the players of the Milwaukee Bucks have shined a glaring, piercing spotlight on the utter failure of the Wisconsin State Legislature. Time will tell if this Republican-led body will have the gumption to pull itself together or if it will shrink impotently from the pressure to act.
By the way, read Dan Shafer‘s work to learn more about the failures of the legislature, and if you’re a reader in Wisconsin, go ahead and give your Republican state legislator a call. We all know they have plenty of time to answer the phone.