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Former Atlanta Dream player pushing for social justice reform reacts to Sen. Kelly Loeffler's Black Lives Matter opposition

The WNBA announced the league's 2020 season will incorporate BLM messaging, which Sen. Loeffler, a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, has publicly opposed.

ATLANTA — Angel McCoughtry spent 10 years with the Atlanta Dream after being selected by the team as the first overall pick in the 2009 WNBA draft. 

McCoughtry, who now plays for the Las Vegas Aces and is also a member of the USA Women's National Basketball team, recently began pushing the WNBA to allow players to use their voices and platform to push for social justice reform. 

McCoughtry's efforts materialized when the WNBA this week announced the 2020 season will be dedicated to social justice reform. "Black Lives Matter" will be displayed on the courts during games and on players' warm-up shirts. 

Players will also be able to display the names of "Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Vanessa Guillen and many more who have been the forgotten victims of police brutality and racial violence," according to a WNBA press release. 

RELATED: WNBA jerseys to include names of women who died from violence, brutality

McCoughtry, who played college basketball at the University of Louisville, told 11Alive she will be wearing the name Breonna Taylor on her jersey for the entire season. 

Taylor, 26, was an EMT who was shot and killed in her Louisville home in what her family called a botched police raid in March.  

"That hit home," McCoughtry said. 

Credit: WXIA

She said she had an amazing career playing for the university and never experienced any kind of racism or social injustice in that area.

"So [Taylor's death] was so unfortunate," McCoughtry said. "Her mom was emotional. They loved the idea. They were so ecstatic that elite athletes would wear the name of her child."

RELATED: Missouri man whose case compelled WNBA star to put career on hold freed from prison

Sen. Kelly Loeffler has been a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream since 2011. Loeffler on Tuesday called the WNBA and BLM union an example of politics in sports and said she believes it has no place in the league

She wrote the league's commissioner in opposition, and at a campaign event in Woodstock on Wednesday she continued to voice her opposition. 

Credit: WXIA
Sen. Kelly Loeffler makes a campaign appearance in Woodstock on July 8, 2020.

"I'm not going to let a political movement - which is what the Black Lives Matter movement truly is - tear our country apart. And I want to speak for all Americans who feel like they don't have a voice, who feel like they're going to be canceled if they speak out," Loeffler said. 

RELATED: WNBA team owner and U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler upset with league's plan to honor Black Lives Matter

In her letter to the commissioner and on Twitter, Loeffler suggested an American flag be placed on every player's jersey instead of Black Lives Matter messaging. 

Since Tuesday, the WNBA Players Association and several players have said they want Loeffler to leave the WNBA. 

Loeffler was asked on Wednesday if she plans to keep her stake in the Dream. 

"I'm a passive owner and I haven't made any decisions," Loeffler said. 

A statement from the WNBA detailed Loeffler's passive role since entering office as a U.S. Senator, saying "Sen. Kelly Loeffler has not served as a Governor of the Atlanta Dream since October 2019 and is no longer involved in the day-to-day business of the team."

McCoughtry told 11Alive she knows Loeffler very well from her time with the team and has been to the senator's Atlanta home, but now views her differently.

"I'm just shocked," McCoughtry said. "She has always been a supporter of women and who we are, but now, of course, things have changed."

She added that she would like to talk with Loeffler directly about her comments.

When asked about players using their role in the league to voice their opinions, Loeffler said she supports everyone having an opinion and added "Let me also say there is no place in this country for racism." 

McCoughtry said she questions and disagrees with Loeffler's position, though, on the league's support of Black Lives Matter. The former Dream player said if you believe there is no place for racism, you should support Black Lives Matter.

"Are you against racism, or not? Because the movement stands against racism. That is what it stands for. It is a movement," McCoughtry said.


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