Following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, the Rays organization engaged in conversations with community leaders and its Diversity and Inclusion Committee to produce the issuing the following statement:
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.
Black Lives Matter. Police brutality is inhumane. We fully support the protestors exercising their civil rights. We stand with black families living in fear.
Our country demands better than this for its people. We can’t breathe.
Words are not enough and have never been enough. We need continued action and a re-education of our culture. We are committing $100,000 per year to supporting causes in the fight against systemic racism.
Over the coming days and weeks, we will identify and share these organizations with you, and do our best to amplify their vital messages. Our committee on Diversity and Inclusion will be responsible for directing those funds.
Finally, we are reminded of the words of 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 Rays did not pull any punches here, standing in solidarity with every element of the Black Lives Matter movement and the George Floyd protesters across the country, including the important acknowledgement of police brutality, and the use of the unifying message of the protesters, bolded by the organization: “We can’t breathe.”
Victims of injustice are named. Funds are pledged. For the organization, this statement is only Step 1.
And while this message was seemingly delayed in being released — something we called them out for — we now know why: a strong message takes time to craft. When many organizations across baseball put out simple statements of solidarity on Monday, this one goes all the way.
You might even say it was worth the wait, as the Rays are the only sports organization to align with the protesters or to commit funds toward anti-racism causes.
Meanwhile, there has been some solidarity from Rays players who have participated in Blackout Tuesday, including Blake Snell, Austin Meadows, Michael Perez, Colin Poche, Diego Castillo, Ryan Yarbrough, and Daniel Robertsion.
Some Rays prospects and employees have also used their social platforms to stand in solidarity, including Wander Franco, Brent Honeywell Jr., Shane McClanahan, Drew Strotman, Tyler Zombro, Logan Driscoll, and occasional play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt. Former Rays posting in solidarity on Blackout Tuesday were Chris Archer, Carlos Peña, Evan Longoria, Jake Bauers, and Christian Arroyo.
Other support shown within the Rays greater sphere of influence has been:
- Blake Snell calling for “uncomfortable conversations about racism, bigotry, police brutality, and social injustice” on Twitter
- Daniel Robertson sharing a video from Nike condemning racism to his temporary story feed on Instagram
- Willy Adames and Brandon Lowe sharing an image from Under Armour demanding “equality” of their Instagram story feeds
We look forward to more messages of solidarity from the players.