The city of Houston held a rally Monday calling for the release of Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, a native of the city, who has been detained in Russia since February.
Griner was taken into custody at a Moscow area airport for the alleged possession of hashish oil, and the U.S. government considers her to be wrongfully detained.
Early in her detention, Griner’s wife Cherelle Griner, WNBA players and others were asked not to speak out on the situation to help keep the Mercury star safe. The strategy has changed in the last month, and public displays of support for Griner have grown.
Monday night’s rally took place outside of the Toyota Center, the home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. It was hosted by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in conjunction with the city and the NAACP’s Houston chapter.
Monday marked the 109th day of Griner’s detention.
Proud to stand with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson, Commissioner Rodney Ellis and NAACP Houston President Bishop James Dixon for the first national support rally and prayer vigil for #BrittneyGriner. #HappeningRightNow pic.twitter.com/L4sBmwesyg— Houston Mayor's Office (@houmayor) June 6, 2022
Proud to stand with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson, Commissioner Rodney Ellis and NAACP Houston President Bishop James Dixon for the first national support rally and prayer vigil for #BrittneyGriner. #HappeningRightNow pic.twitter.com/L4sBmwesyg
U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was detained in Russia for three years and was recently released, was present at the rally.
“I was wrongfully detained in Russia in 2019 and I was a prisoner there for 985 days,” he said. “It’s really medieval. The food there is medieval as well.”
Many have called on the U.S. government to do more in its efforts to bring Griner home. In an interview with “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, called on President Biden to act.
“I just keep hearing that he has the power,” Griner said. “She’s a political pawn. So if they’re holding her because they want you to do something, then I want you to do it.”