Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud spoke for her team Friday night after their loss to the Seattle Storm and was the only player who did, following through on her promise for a “media blackout.”
“We’re talking about the loss of a game. There’s a lot more losses going on within our community, especially within this community, Ward 8,” Cloud said. “So we as a team want to only bring light to the issues going on within this community, and that is the violence around kids going to school.”
Before Friday’s game against the Storm, Cloud said she and the team had decided she “will be speaking for the entire team” tonight and would not be taking any basketball questions.
Cloud’s stand came after she announced on Instagram Thursday night that she was upset about recent gun violence incidents at Hendley Elementary School, which is less than two miles from where the Mystics practice and play.
Hendley Elementary was placed on lockdown Wednesday as a bullet went through the upper lobby window -- the second shooting incident in two weeks. As a result, the school’s field day was canceled.
Cloud then took to Instagram and her more than 24,000 followers to challenge Ward 8 representative Trayon White and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to talk to her and make a change.
"Our kids can't even feel safe to go to school right now!" Cloud said. "What are we doing?"
She continued, "And let me tell you something else, Tray, Mayor Bowser. If I don't get a response by tomorrow morning with a solution and/or a sit-down for a solution, because y'all have had a month now to figure this out, we have a rematch of the WNBA Finals tomorrow (June 14th). I will be sure to use all of my media privileges as a blackout and I will only discuss this topic until it gets fixed."
The Mystics' organization said in a statement it "respects the right of our players to speak out in a manner that promotes positive dialogue."
“Together, we aspire to work with civil leaders and elected officials to find ways to better the communities where we play,” the team said before the game.
“Mayor Bowser went to the community on Thursday evening to meet with community leaders, their MPD Captain and outreach staff to discuss their concerns and talk about recent incidents. That dialogue will continue as we work to end the senseless violence that has been fueled by the unfortunate presence of too many illegal guns," the mayor's office said in a statement.
Head coach Mike Thibault said postgame that his “only comment” about it is that the team wants to be “part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
“So if we’re going to have our players talk about it and they want to talk about it, then my thoughts to them is that you have to follow up and be part of the process, to do those things. We’re here in Ward 8 to be a part of the community, and we’re having those kids from the schools come here … That’s got to be an ongoing thing, that cannot be a one-off thing,” Thibault added.