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‘We can’t breathe’: Tampa Bay Rays stand in solidarity with anti-police brutality protesters

The team has just one message: Black Lives Matter.

The Tampa Bay Rays have just one message to protesters taking to the streets to protest the officer-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Black Lives Matter.

In a statement condemning police brutality, the Major League Baseball team, which also owns the Tampa Bay Rowdies, made no mention of rioting and looting that have occurred in some areas as offshoots of otherwise peaceful protests, a rallying cry, particularly from the right, that has in some cases diminished the efforts of peaceful protesters.

“Our country is mourning the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others who have perished unnecessarily. The evils of systemic and institutionalized racism continue to plague our nation. We know that, all too often, these cases are dismissed or excused without justice being served,” the team’s leadership wrote in a statement Tuesday.

“Black Lives Matter.”

“Police brutality is inhumane. We fully support the protestors exercising their civil rights. We stand with black families living in fear,” the statement continued.

The Rays are contributing $100,000 annually to supporting causes that fight against systemic racism.

“Our country demands better than this for its people. We can’t breathe,” they wrote, a reference to Floyd crying out from under an officer’s knee and ones all too familiar from a similar incident in 2014 involving the death of Eric Garner.

The Rays said they would be announcing organizations benefiting from their charitable contributions in the coming days. The team’s Diversity and Inclusion committee will direct funds.

The team ended its statement with a quote from late professional baseball great Jackie Robinson.

“Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.”

“While our hearts may be broken, we aren’t giving up,” the team concluded.

Read the full statement here.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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