Last week, women’s basketball star Brittney Griner was found guilty of drug possession and drug smuggling with criminal intent and sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison. Charges are based on Russian customs officials allegedly finding .702 grams of cannabis oil in her luggage when she arrived in Russia to rejoin the team with which she plays during the WNBA off-season. Numerous individuals and organizations are speaking out on Griner’s behalf.

Jotaka Eaddy, founder/convenor of #WinWithBlackWomen, called it a moral outrage. Last month, more than 1,100 Black women signed a letter in support of Griner. “Black women leaders have remained clear that we firmly believe that Brittney is being wrongfully detained and used as a political pawn. We fully support President Biden’s call for Brittney Griner to be immediately released and urge the Biden-Harris administration to continue their diplomatic negotiations to secure her safe and immediate return home,” said Eaddy. 

Griner is an Olympic gold medalist, World Champion, WNBA Champion and NCAA Champion. During the WNBA postseason, she has played professionally in Russia for several years. Her teammates on the Phoenix Mercury continue to express their concern for her health and welfare. They called the verdict a sobering milestone in this unrelenting nightmare.

“We remain heartbroken for her, as we have every day for nearly six months,” was written in a team statement. “We remain grateful to and confident in the public servants working every day to return her to her family and us. We remain faithful the administration will do what it takes to end her wrongful detention. We are inspired every day by BG’s strength and we are steadfastly committed to keeping her top-of-mind publicly until she is safely back on American soil.”

Kierra Johnson, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, called the sentence excessive and wrong. “We have watched for months as Brittney Griner has been used as a political pawn, even as she has made clear that she did not intend to break any laws,” said Johnson. “It is time for the U.S. government to do everything they can to bring Brittney home. The trial is over. More serious negotiations to bring her home safely must begin now. We must advance the negotiations in process, out of concern for her safety and to get her home to her wife and family as soon as possible. … We support her appeal and stand with Brittney and her family, friends and supporters.”

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