Activists to hand out thousands of 'Free Hong Kong' shirts at Warriors opening day game

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A group of Bay Area activists plan to give out thousands of t-shirts that say "Free Hong Kong" on them to attendees of the Warriors' opening-day game on Thursday.

Lee Bishop started a GoFundMe to raise money to order the t-shirts. He said it's a way to show solidarity with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and to protest the NBA's initial response to their feud with China.

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So far he has raised nearly $13,000.

"The top, of course, says 'Free Hong Kong,'" Bishop said of the shirts, which are in English and Mandarin.

Translating, he added: "Below that, the first line says 'Support Hong Kong,' and then below that it says, 'America supports you.'"

Bishop says he ordered roughly 800 pounds of t-shirts in all different sizes. He is keeping them at an undisclosed location out of fear of protests.

Roughly 100 volunteers have signed up to help hand out the shirts, which are in the Warriors colors.

As NBA season kicks off, arenas across the country are bracing for similar protests.

Supporters of the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have criticized the NBA for their handling of their feud with China over free speech - a spat which began when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of the Hong Kong protesters.

The NBA -which makes billions from China -- initially seemed to distance itself from Morey, but after backlash from fans in the U.S., they apologized for that response. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has now said no one will be punished for speaking out on this issue.

Still, it's messy.

"The NBA is trying to expand in China, as is the NFL, and they depend on the Chinese as much, or more, as Apple computer does," Steve Weber, a professor at UC Berkeley's School if Information, explained. "So, that's a huge, huge market, and anything that the NBA does to infuriate the Chinese isn't just a political statement it's a business statement for the NBA."

Silver says the NBA has already lost money from this spat and is prepared and willing to lose more.

Bishops says if attendees wear the shirts in the stands, it will send this message:

"That America stands with Hong Kong and democracy and that the American people and the consumers are not going to sit by and be silent while corporations are actively complicit in silencing people in censoring speech," he said.
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