When an animal rights protester tried to storm the basketball court during a playoff game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies, she was immediately tackled by a quick-thinking security guard.
Guards then escorted her off the court and the game resumed peacefully. If you had doubts before, this incident makes it clear that security guards are crucial at professional sporting events.
Timberwolves a Target for Protesters
Three protester-provoked incidents at Timberwolves home games this month alone. The most recent has been identified as Sasha Zemmel, an animal rights activist backed by Direct Action Everywhere, an animal rights group.
The group has accused Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor, who is also the owner of Rembrandt Enterprises, a producer of eggs and egg products, of “roasting animals alive.” They made this allegation after millions of chickens at Rembrandt Enterprises were killed, supposedly in a very inhumane way, due to an outbreak of avian flu. Zemmel was wearing a referee jersey with the number 5.3, symbolizing the 5.3 million chickens killed.
Two previous protesters were also backed by Direct Action Everywhere. In the first incident, a woman glued her wrist to the court during a game, but security guards managed to detach her. Three days later, at the first game of the playoffs, a different protester chained herself to the basket stanchion, wearing a shirt stating “Glen Taylor Roasts Animals Alive.”
Why Security Guards Are Crucial at Events
The three recent protesters at the Timberwolves games have not attempted any violence; they seemed only to be concerned with conveying their message. The case of Sasha Zemmel, in particular, seems to be extreme: Did the security guard really need to tackle her to the ground?
It is easy to say the security guards overreacted, now that the incident is over and we know no violence was intended – but in the thick of things, there was no way to know that. For all the guards knew, this woman (and the other protesters) intended to do some major damage.
Unfortunately, they would not be crazy to think that. The week that Zemmel chose to storm the court is the same one, 29 years ago, that professional tennis player Monica Seles was stabbed in the back in the middle of a match. Seles had been hailed by many as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, but the mentally ill man who managed to get to the court and stab her put an end to that. She took several years off from playing tennis, but when she returned, it was not to her former glory.
No one wants to see a repeat of Monica Seles.
This is why security guards are crucial at all professional sporting events and why the guards who took down Zemmel have been mostly praised, not criticized.
Employing well-trained and experienced security guards at events of any size can be the key to avoiding fan on the field incidents and disasters. While we do not have control over all those with ill intentions, we can do our best to protect ourselves with the help of trained professionals.
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