Houston Holds Rally Calling For Brittney Griner’s Return From Russia

The city of Houston held a rally and prayer vigil Monday, calling for the release of Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner. In March, the U.S. State Department reclassified Griner as “wrongfully detained by the Russian government.” Griner was detained after Russian officials stopped her from going through airport security for allegedly having hashish oil in her possession in February.

Monday night’s rally took place outside of the Toyota Center, the home of the Houston Rockets. Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee organized and hosted the rally with the city of Houston and the NAACP Houston Chapter. 

“Unfortunately, I knew that Brittney Griner’s destiny was going to be wrapped up in the leadership of the United States of America and the American people who had expressed their outrage and care for her,” Jackson Lee said in a statement released by the Toyota Center. “…Our nation is founded on the values of equality and democracy. On Monday, Houstonians will stand up with pride in their love of democracy, equality, and justice; and their voices will be heard in Washington DC and all the way to where Brittney is held.”

“We hope this rally and prayer vigil will continue to propel the administration and the President of the United States to continue to work to secure the release of Brittney Griner.”

The rally featured multiple prominent politicians and social activists, including U.S. Marine Trevor Reed. Reed was detained in Russia for nearly three years and was recently released.

“I was wrongfully detained in Russia in 2019, and I was a prisoner there for 985 days,” Reed said. “It’s really medieval.”

A Houston native, Griner was a standout at Nimitz High School and later received national recognition at Baylor, where she led the Bears to an NCAA Championship in 2012.

NBA stars from LeBron James to Carmelo Anthony have called for the release of Griner, who has been detained in Russia for over 100 days.

“She is a WNBA player, an Olympian, a teammate, a sister, a daughter, a wife,” Anthony said in a statement released on social media. “She is a human, and she needs to come home.”