WNBA star Brittney Griner’s Russian legal case may have come to an end on Tuesday when her appeal was denied, but the basketball champion’s supporters are letting the world know they still have her back.
According to Yahoo!, on Thursday, members of the group DC Marijuana Justice showed up outside the Russian embassy in Washington DC to protest Griner’s wrongful detainment by holding a “smoke out.” Beginning at 4:20 p.m. ET—because of course, that’s the time they chose—protesters smoked marijuana and displayed a 51-foot inflatable joint that read “Free Britney Griner and the Russians from Putin” on one side and “Free 420 Prisoners” on the other.
“Just as it’s unacceptable for Americans to sit behind bars for simple possession of cannabis, it’s absolutely unacceptable for an American sitting in a Russian gulag,” DC Marijuana Justice co-founder Adam Eidinger told The Washington Post. “We feel compelled to protest the Russian Federation and President Putin, who’s clearly using an American citizen as a pawn in his war against Ukraine.”
The Phoenix Mercury center has been wrongfully detained in Russia since Feb. 17, when police stopped her at a Moscow airport and claimed they found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. After pleading guilty during her trial, the WNBA star was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug smuggling and possession. On Tuesday, her appeal was denied, meaning she’ll now be headed to a prison or labor camp while she serves her time and waits to see if a prisoner exchange can be negotiated between Russia and the U.S.
While I’m happy to see the eight-time WNBA All-Star’s situation stay in the headlines, I can’t shake the feeling that a somewhat performative protest like this is not going to help the State Department during its talks with the Russian government. However, it does remind Brittney that she’s not forgotten, which is the best thing we can do for her right now.