Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who’s been detained in Russia for the last five months with no release date in sight, has some powerful people in her corner. Celebrities, politicians, and fellow athletes have been advocating for her release. Her wife has spoken with both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. But so far, Russian authorities aren’t budging on releasing Griner, who pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis oil, which she said she had done by accident. Griner is facing up to 10 years in prison on the charge of large-scale transportation of drugs.
Less than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, which can be overturned. The long Griner is detained, the less certain her release seems to get. Now her league has formed a movement in the hopes of keeping Griner’s name in the press while continuing to pressure the Biden administration to act.
“#WeAreBG,” the effort to make Griner’s name a rallying cry, has gained more social media momentum in the weeks since Griner’s guilty plea.
— dawnstaley (@dawnstaley) July 19, 2022
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) July 12, 2022
Writer Roxane Gay highlighted why Griner might be a particular target for Russian authorities as a Black woman who is also openly gay.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Brittney Griner’s plight and who gets lost in the attention economy. To be a pawn in a geopolitical chess game is so unjust. We must believe we are BG and continue to fight for her release. I wrote about it. https://t.co/IbBSDUXvaf
— roxane gay (@rgay) July 15, 2022
On Monday night, the WNBA’s Executive Director, Terri Jackson was interviewed on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah about Griner, where she shared the “We Are BG” motto as a call to action. Jackson explained why the WNBA was told not to respond or comment publicly when Griner was first detained. She also outlined the next steps to free Griner, saying she “should not be a political pawn,” and once again called on the Biden administration to take action to bring Brittney home.