When Milwaukee Bucks players were able to speak to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes on Wednesday, they had one main goal.
“They just wanted to know what they could do,” Barnes told ESPN. “They were very interested in a call to action. They wanted something tangible that they could do in the short and long term. They wanted the walkout [from Wednesday’s game against the Orlando Magic] to be Step 1.”
Barnes told them that the most important thing they could press for is “for action at every level of government.”
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, has called a special session of the state Legislature in the wake of Sunday’s police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and urged state lawmakers to vote on a legislative package that includes police reform.
That legislation was initially introduced June 20 but has yet to be voted on by the Republican-led state Legislature.
Evers introduced the legislation in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis in May. The nine bills for police reform include proposals that bar the use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants, require annual training on de-escalation techniques and establish statewide standards the use of force.
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable,” Bucks guard George Hill said in a statement. “For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.”
The Republican Assembly speaker, Robin Vos, recently announced a task force focusing on racial disparities, educational opportunities, public safety and police policies and standards.
“We have an opportunity to bring people together to find solutions,” Vos said in a statement this week. “Instead, the governor is choosing to turn to politics again by dictating liberal policies that will only deepen the divisions in our state.”
During a news conference Wednesday night in Kenosha, Kaul spoke of his conversation with the Bucks’ players.
“I had begun telling them just a little bit about how Wisconsin’s process works,” Kaul said. “I want to say, I commend the Bucks — and now all NBA teams have suspended their games today — for stepping up and participating in the dialogue about these issues and making their issues known. The Bucks have, frankly, done more to address these issues than Robin Vos or [State Sen.] Scott Fitzgerald have done, so I applaud them for stepping up and playing a leadership role in the debate.”