COOPER RIVER INDIVISIBLE OPPOSES PHILADELHIA 76ers’ CENSORSHIP
The ejection of fans for supporting pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong is contrary to the 76ers’ branding as well as American value
CAMDEN, NJ – Troubling news reports have emerged about two Philadelphia 76ers fans being ejected from last night’s preseason game against the Guangzhou Loong Lions, because of the fans’ signs and statements supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. By doing so, the Philadelphia 76ers have sided with Chinese autocracy and merchandise sales over bedrock American principles.
Cooper River Indivisible calls on the Philadelphia 76ers to apologize to the fans ejected last night, to stop suppressing messages of support for Hong Kong pro-democracy forces, and to live up to the values of its Revolutionary War branding.
The very name “76ers” harkens back to American revolutionaries taking up arms against tyranny and oppression. In last year’s playoffs, the team emblazoned their marketing materials with American Revolution symbols and references, channeling the glorious history of this region in fighting for freedom. Yet the team now kowtows to censorious autocrats in China, a nation operating its own concentration camp system for Uighur Muslim minorities, and trampling democratic rights to assembly and self-determination in Hong Kong.
These two facts cannot coexist. If the team is to use cherished symbols of the American fight for freedom, it must not capitulate to China’s suppression of that same struggle within its own borders. To do so while using this name and branding dishonors the memory of our freedom-fighting ancestors. With a practice facility located right here on the waterfront of Camden City, the Philadelphia 76ers are a part of our South Jersey community, and need to uphold the values to which our region aspires and adheres.
The team stated that the fans were ejected because they were “disrupting the live event experience.” This statement is unacceptable. Fans at sporting events are frequently loud and boisterous; absent threats or obscenity, there is no cause to eject fans for vocally supporting basic American freedoms. Complaints from other fans is no excuse, and it is not as though the 76ers have had problems with political statements in the past: Ben Simmons wore a “March For Our Lives” shirt protesting gun violence inaction before a game in his rookie year, for example. This was a laudable social justice conscience on the part of a 76ers player, and a point of pride for the team. The Sixers’ current actions, however, deserve nothing but scorn.
The 76ers must choose American values over greed.