Phoenix City Councilman Calls NBA Players Protesting Police Shooting 'Whiny Bitches'

Phoenix council member Sal DiCiccio.
City of Phoenix
Phoenix council member Sal DiCiccio.
In a series of social media posts last night, Phoenix City Council member Sal DiCiccio called National Basketball Association players "whiny bitches" for boycotting games over the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Jacob Blake, who is Black, was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer on August 23 during an attempted arrest following a domestic dispute call. In response, protests have erupted nationwide and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it will open a civil rights investigation into the shooting.

Players from a variety of major American sports teams have also protested the shooting by boycotting scheduled games. Milwaukee Bucks' players reportedly refused to leave their locker room on Wednesday, August 26, during a playoff game against the Orlando Magic, according to news reports. Games involving the Seattle Mariners and the San Francisco Giants were postponed to protest the shooting.

But DiCiccio, who has represented District 6 (which covers portions of southern and eastern Phoenix) on the city council since 2009, clearly doesn't approve.

In one post issued on his official Facebook page, DiCiccio linked to a Fox News story about how the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly opted to boycott the remainder of their seasons. DiCiccio wrote, "Hoping we don't have to listen to anymore whiny bitches. Looks like 2020 is actually making a turn around for the good. I will take a knee praying if they follow through."

Screenshot via Facebook

On Twitter, DiCiccio issued a similar post, sharing the same Fox News story and stating, "Looks like 2020 is making a huge turnaround. I really hope these guys follow through with this easy lay up so we don't have to listen to any more whiny bitches @NBA #NBABoycott."

Screenshot via Twitter

In another post responding to a Tweet from a reporter from The Athletic discussing the Lakers and Clippers votes to boycott the remainder of the season, DiCiccio wrote, "Fantastic news. Really hoping we don't have to listen to any more whiny bitches coming from the NBA. They will never follow through, they are a bunch of big talkers. I am an official with the City of Phoenix and these guys will never follow through. Really, really big talkers."

Screenshot via Twitter
Through a staffer in his office, DiCiccio doubled down on his rants in a statement to New Times: "I don't take back a single word of this. None. I'm tired of these entitled athletes playing in taxpayer-funded stadiums making millions of dollars pounding on police officers who make $40K a year. Public is tired of them, too."

Phoenix City Councilman Carlos Garcia slammed DiCiccio's comments as "hateful rhetoric" and "doubling down on bigotry."

"In a time when these players and leagues and people around the country are growing and understanding the moment and trying to be better, people like Sal are doubling down on bigotry," Garcia wrote in a text to New Times. "Hateful rhetoric has consequences — our office, community organizations and others are getting threats all the time from the Councilman's followers."

"While he is calling players 'whiny bitches' because they took a stand, that is also a direct attack on families who have suffered from police violence, like Ryan Whitaker, whom died at the hands of police in his district, and all the people who are standing with those families," Garcia added.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego was less pointed in her criticism of DiCiccio.

"At a time when conversation about these issues is so important, it's unfortunate to see the Councilman's Twitter comments," Gallego's spokesperson told New Times.

Reached by email, Dean Stoyer, chief marketing and communication officer for the Phoenix Suns, told New Times, of DiCiccio's comments, "Personally, his ignorant remarks aren’t worth any more attention until he chooses to run for another political office when voters should be reminded that he said 'looks like 2020 is actually making a turn around for the good' at the moment the rest of the country was distraught and angered over yet another violent attack on an unarmed Black man."

The official Twitter account for the Suns retweeted a lengthy note on Wednesday from the official Phoenix Mercury account announcing that the WNBA team would be postponing a game.

On Thursday afternoon, Suns owner Robert Sarver weighed in, saying, "I remain personally ready, willing and able to work side by side with our Suns, Mercury and other WNBA and NBA players and coaches to bring about criminal justice reform. We have done it locally, fighting discriminatory legislation in our state and unfair sheriffing in our county, specifically advocating to defeat SB-1070 that legalized racial profiling in 2010. Together we can engage again to bring about positive change toward racial equality."

At least one Phoenix Suns player, Mikal Bridges, has shared his thoughts about the recent events. Bridges wrote yesterday on Twitter, "I swear its not that hard to understand that WE as human beings just want to be treated equal ... and if u don’t understand that then im sorry for your ignorance ..."

Note: This story was updated to include statements from DiCiccio and Stoyer.