Vigil Held Outside Russian Consulate in New York Ahead of Brittney Griner Trial

Activists gathered outside the Russian consulate in New York City on Wednesday, June 29, holding a vigil ahead of the trial of American basketball player Brittney Griner, which was due to begin in Russia on Friday.

Griner was detained at a Moscow airport on February 17 after Russian officials said they had found vape cartridges bearing traces of hash oil in her luggage. She had been in Russia to play for a team during the WNBA’s off-season.

Russian state-owned news agency TASS said Griner’s trial would begin on July 1. Its report was accompanied by video showing Griner at a Khimki city court, near Moscow, for a preliminary hearing. She did not speak in the footage.

Footage posted by Ben Von Klemperer showed speaker Tamika Mallory, from campaign group Until Freedom, speaking to the crowd outside the consulate.

“We demand that America is responsible for bringing Brittney Griner home no matter what we have to do,” she can be heard saying as the crowd applauds. Credit: Ben Von Klemperer via Storyful

Video transcript

TAMIKA MALLORY: Now, while we may be here today praying outside of the Russian consulate so that their hearts and minds will be touched, we depend on and demand that America be responsible for bringing Brittney Griner home, no matter what we have to do. Brittney Griner is valuable. She means something to us. She matters to Black women, and she best matter to the administration that sits in Washington with the ability and the resources to do what is necessary for Black women.

It is one thing to appoint a Black woman as vice president, which we appreciate, it is another to fight for a Black woman to become the Supreme Court justice. Those things are great. But it is something else to get in the mud with us and fight for Black women who are being disenfranchised, who are being harmed, and someone who we know victimized.

- That's right, victimized.

TAMIKA MALLORY: Victimized, and being cowed.

- Monetized.

TAMIKA MALLORY: Monetized. Monetized. Give me some more words. Victimized, monetized, and dehumanized. Brutalized, brutalized, and even tortured.

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