Once the U.S. government officially classified Griner as wrongfully detained, Colas and her team focused on a public and private strategy for rallying support for bringing the star home. Griner’s WNBA teammates and numerous NBA players, including Lakers star LeBron James, have joined celebrities and musicians wearing clothing and posting messages in support of Griner.
Her supporters, including her wife, have done extensive local and national media interviews and a wide range of groups have endorsed their efforts. The WNBA and NBA both have repeatedly called for Griner’s release, adding her initials to WNBA courts and making her an honorary all-star to call further attention to her detention.
In a letter sent to the White House on Wednesday, 44 organizations — including the National Organization for Women, the Human Rights Campaign and the National Urban League — called for Biden to arrange a deal for Griner’s release.
On Friday, the House passed Rep. Greg Stanton’s resolution calling on the Russian government to immediately release Griner and supporting U.S. government efforts to secure her release.
In addition to letters of support from high-profile figures, clothing and pins featuring “We are BG” that keep Griner in the spotlight and social media campaigns, supporters started a petition to help demonstrate how many people want to see Griner released.
The strategy is comparable to past efforts to get wrongfully incarcerated individuals released from U.S. prisons and swing support in favor of Raphael Warnock’s successful run for U.S. Senate in Georgia.
The petition calling for Griner’s release, which has more than 275,000 signatures, can be found at WeAreBG.org. The website also features information about Griner’s case to help explain what it means to be wrongfully detained.
“People need to be aware of this. Do you want your child, your sister, your friend, your family taken in as a political pawn? Forget being a celebrity. Most of the people are normal people. Normal people without resources and teams and advisers,” Colas said. “This should matter because most wrongful detainees are not celebrities and it could happen to anyone if we don’t act and prioritize all wrongfully detained Americans.”
Colas said the goal is to accumulate at least half a million signatures on the petition and send it to the White House to illustrate the strong support for bringing Griner home.