A Toronto group that supports Hong Kong‘s pro-democracy protests says it plans to hand out thousands of free T-shirts to Raptors fans as they head into the Scotiabank Arena Tuesday for the team’s home opener.
The Torontonian HongKongers Action Group launched a GoFundMe page earlier in the week and said it has raised over $34,000 to create 7,000 shirts.
The statement comes days after Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the protests that have been taking place in Hong Kong for over four months.
The protests in Hong Kong began in response to a proposed bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China.
Morey later deleted the tweet after Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta tweeted a response saying the GM does not speak for the Rockets organization.
Morey has not commented publicly since a pair of tweets on Oct. 6 attempting to clarify his position.
“As you may know by now, China is trying to censor the entire NBA because Houston Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted a ‘Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong’ photo to support Hong Kong,” a statement on the GoFundMe reads.
Mimi Lee, spokesperson for the Torontonian HongKongers Action Group, told Global News on Friday that the group’s intention is not to take away from the Raptors’ championship celebration or from the NBA as a whole, but rather to use the moment to keep raising awareness.
Neither the Raptors nor the NBA are involved in the campaign. It is unclear whether fans will be allowed to enter the arena wearing the shirts.
When Morey’s original tweet started to gain traction, NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass released the following statement.
“We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them,” the statement said.
“We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.”
Lee said the T-shirts will be branded with “The North stand with Hong Kong.”
The Raptors open their season against the New Orleans Pelicans. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
Global News has reached out to the Raptors for comment.