Girl banned from swim meet over Black Lives Matter suit

‘Keep bringing home the W’s, Leidy!’

Gino Spocchia
Wednesday 09 February 2022 20:56 GMT
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Leidy Gallona at the swim meet on Sunday
Leidy Gallona at the swim meet on Sunday (NAACP Duluth./Facebook/Leidy Gallona)

The NAACP saved a 12-year-old swimmer from disqualification after an organiser in Wisconsin refused to allow a swimsuit with the words “Black Lives Matter”.

Leidy Gallona wore the handmade swimsuit at a meeting sponsored by Duluth’s YMCA on Sunday when she was allegedly told to change or face disqualification from the event, the NCAAP said.

Her mother Sarah Lyons told reporters her daughter wore the swimsuit as a show of support for the family of 22-year-old Amir Locke, who was shot dead in Minneapolis last week.

The death of the Black man has led to days of demonstrations in Minneapolis.

The NAACP said it approached Duluth’s YMCA, a fitness centre who organised the event at Superior High School in Wisconsin at the weekend, to ask for the removal of the person who threatened Leidy’s disqualification.

The woman respsonible allegledy cited a USA Swimming policy that bans political language.

“We asked that the official be removed and they were,” wrote the NCAAP, the country’s biggest civil right’s union, on Facebook. “Keep bringing home the W’s, Leidy!”

“We need to protect our young Black girls and stand up against racism without being performative,” the statement went on. “For our allies that showed up we thank you! For organisations that claim to stand against racism we need you to stand up in the moment and not let this continue to happen.”

The 12-year-old and the Black Lives Matter swimsuit
The 12-year-old and the Black Lives Matter swimsuit (NAACP Duluth/Facebook/Leidy Gallona)

“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!”

Duluth’s YMCA said in a statement of its own one Sunday that it “quickly overruled the decision, removed the official and the student is now participating in the meet.” As did staff dispute the reference to USA Swimming, it was claimed.

“The Duluth YMCA is saddened that the student, their family, and teammates had to endure this unacceptable behaviour”, said the body. “The Duluth YMCA will continue our ongoing commitment to train all staff and volunteers on diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

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