At the Brooklyn Nets home opener, a large group of vaccine mandate protesters demonstrated outside the Barclays Center, demanding that Kyrie Irving be permitted to play NBA games with the team, Yahoo Sports reported.
Donning shirts in support of the star guard and holding protest signs with slogans that read “Stand with Kyrie” and shouting “Let Kyrie play,” the crowd became hostile and stormed past the barricades outside the arena, attempting to enter the building
According to CBS News, the rally was organized by groups including Teachers for Choice as well as Rev. Kevin McCall and Black Lives Matter activist Hank Newsome. Interestingly, in the crowd, there were supporters of Donald Trump supporters and people with Black Lives Matter signs. One source claimed to hear a reference of the Jan. 6 insurrection of the U.S. Capitol.
After McCall and Newsome got frustrated when the DJ outside Barclays wouldn’t turn down the music for a few minutes, dozens swarmed the plaza. The situation got so bad that the Nets decided to shut down anyone seeking entrance into the Barclays Center to keep protesters out of the building.
After the incident, the Barclays Center later released a statement confirming the lockdown.
“Barclays Center briefly closed its doors today in order to clear protestors from the main doors on the plaza and ensure guests could safely enter the arena,” the statement read. “Only ticketed guests were able to enter the building and the game proceeded according to schedule”
As EBONY previously reported, the Nets announced that Irving isn’t allowed to play under the city’s vaccine mandate, which requires at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot to enter indoor venues.
Irving went on Instagram Live to share his thoughts about his personal freedom and the media’s coverage of him.
“It’s reality that, you know, in order to be in New York City, in order to be on a team, I have to be vaccinated,” he said. “I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice. And I would ask y’all just to respect that choice, and I am gonna just continue to stay in shape, be ready to play, be ready to rock out with my teammates, and just be part of this whole thing.”
Without Irving in the lineup, the Nets are currently 1-2 to start the season.