Duluth YMCA staff removed a volunteer official from a swim meet after the official attempted to disqualify a competitor for wearing a “Black Lives Matter” swimsuit.
12-year-old swimmer Leidy Lyons created her own “Black Lives Matter” swimsuit for a Sunday meet at Superior High School, but an official claimed it violated USA Swimming’s policy of “no political language” and would not let her participate, according to the Duluth YMCA.
The Duluth chapter of the NAACP corroborated this account by claiming the official offered Lyons the opportunity to change in lieu of disqualification. Instead, she “stood in solidarity for what she believes in.”
Upon hearing this, YMCA staff “swiftly disputed” the disqualification attempt and overruled the official soon after. The Duluth YMCA said Sunday that the official was removed from the meet and is “banned” from their future swim meets.
“The Duluth YMCA will continue our ongoing commitment to train all staff and volunteers on diversity, equity, and inclusion,” they wrote in a statement. “The Duluth Area Family YMCA is committed to being an anti-racist organization and stands with BIPOC communities throughout the Northland and throughout our country. We know that Black Lives Matter and we will continue to work to educate ourselves, to stand against inequality, and to strive to be active allies in the ongoing fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
In their own statement the Duluth NAACP claimed they requested the official’s removal.
“We need to protect our young Black girls and stand up against racism without being performative,” the group said. “The Duluth NAACP was ready to shut the meet down until Leidy was allowed to compete and we need everybody to come with that same energy!”
According to the Duluth News Tribune, Lyons created the BLM swimsuit after learning about the shooting death of 22-year-old Amir Locke by Minneapolis police.
Body camera footage shows Locke pulling a handgun after a SWAT team entered an apartment he was sleeping in. Police shot Locke three times, and he was later pronounced dead at the Hennepin County Medical Center.
Over the weekend protests took place in Minneapolis and Mayor Jacob Frey announced a pause on no-knock warrants.
“No matter what information comes to light, it won’t change the fact that Amir Locke’s life was cut short,” Frey said in a statement. “To ensure safety of both the public and officers until a new policy is crafted, I’m issuing a moratorium on both the request and execution of such warrants in Minneapolis.”