Former Russian convict and politically outspoken WNBA player Brittney Griner barely landed in the United States a month ago and she has wasted little time in returning to the role of activist. One might have thought she’d have a different viewpoint of America after her harrowing ordeal abroad, but any hope of self-reflection appears to have been dashed.
Griner took to the streets in Phoenix this past Monday to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, joining hundreds of other marchers following a two-mile trail that included the idea that equal votings have not yet been applied to the black community and that people still needed to “fight the fight.”
HAPPY TO BE HOME: @PhoenixMercury star @brittneygriner makes appearance at #AZMLK Festival in Phoenix.
BG posed for pictures with fans.
Talked about being Houstonians.
Says she’s happy to be home after time in Russian prison.#News #AZ #BG42 #Hoops #WNBA pic.twitter.com/G2ocB8fEqO
— Jonathan McCall (@JonathanMcCall) January 16, 2023
USA Today captured several quotes from participants. One said she wanted to “continue hi [MLK’s] legacy, intimating that systemic injustices still persist against the black community in America.
Della Mathieu, a Tempe resident, said she came out to the march because of the work Dr. King did for the African American community. “I’m supporting the cause. Rain or shine, I have to be here,” Mathieu said. “We have to continue his legacy for the people coming behind us.
Another said she wanted to stand up for “voting rights,” again suggesting this is a major hurdle in the United States in 2023.
“I learned a lot about Dr. King when I was in graduate school,” the Phoenix resident [Melissa Mcginnis] said. “I believe really strongly in standing up for rights. For instance, voting rights. I am trying to continue what I can to carry on his legacy and the things he fought for.”
Mcginnis said the march was important to her because it takes every generation to “fight the fight.”
Last month, Brittney Griner was released from a Russian labor camp, where she was sentenced to serve nearly a decade, in return for renowned arms dealer Viktor Bout. AP News reported on the possible dangers of releasing Bout from his own prison sentence.
“In releasing Bout, the U.S. freed a former Soviet Army lieutenant colonel whom the Justice Department once described as one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers. Bout, whose exploits inspired a Hollywood movie, was serving a 25-year sentence on charges that he conspired to sell tens of millions of dollars in weapons that U.S officials said were to be used against Americans.”
In response to the announced one-for-one trade, which some commentators online said was the first time a WNBA trade made news, The American Tribune noted that Joe Biden left other Americans who have been in Russia far longer remained there after the deal was completed.
Griner should count herself lucky that she can shoot a basketball because that seems to be the only separating factor between her and Paul Whelan, another American who has found himself imprisoned in Russia. He was not included in the deal, presumably because Biden could not scrounge up another war criminal to make the trade fair.
Donald Trump wasted little time and few words when reacting to the news as well.
“What kind of a deal is it to swap Brittney Griner, a basketball player who openly hates our Country, for the man known as “The Merchant of Death,” who is one of the biggest arms dealers anywhere in the World, and responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and horrific injuries,” he said, blasting the Biden administration. “Why wasn’t former Marine Paul Whelan included in this totally one-sided transaction? He would have been let out for the asking. What a “stupid” and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!!!”
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