In the past months, as the Black Lives Matter movement has gained profound momentum in cities around the world and people took to the streets to protest lifetimes of systemic racism, MLB and its teams have been vocal to varying degrees.
All teams made a statement regarding the BLM movement, and as Opening Day dawned on Thursday there was even a BLM logo on the pitcher’s mound and most players wore a Black Lives Matter patch on their sleeves.
As teams have made a various pledges towards helping the Black Lives Matter movement, the Rays made a promise to for “continued action and a re-education of our culture” in addition to an annual pledge of $100,000 for local community groups that would fight against racism.
On Friday morning, they sent out waves across Twitter with one bold tweet.
Today is Opening Day, which means it's a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 24, 2020
As messages go, it’s certainly one inclined to grab a lot of attention very quickly.
Breonna Taylor is one of the faces and names most strongly associated with the Black Lives Matter movement because of the sheer senselessness and tragedy of her death. Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT was shot and killed by three plainclothes police officers who entered her home with a no-knock warrant. Gunfire was exchanged between the officers and Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker.
Kenneth Walker is a licensed gun owner who believed men were invading his home. Breonna Taylor was shot eight times while in her own bed.
The warrant was for two men in a home some ten miles away.
It should be noted that the cry to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor has become so consistent surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement that it has, unfortunately, become almost a meme in and of itself.
The frequency of the phrase online borders on the feeling that her name and her life are not being treated with the gravity and seriousness they deserve. Especially since so few of those “arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor” messages even mention the men by name.
The names of those officers are Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove. Since her March 13 death, no charges have been filed against the three men, and no arrests made for their responsibility in her homicide.
Taylor deserves justice, and people have been screaming for it.
The Rays certainly didn’t intend to use the meme to dampen the importance of Taylor’s life, as they used additional tweets released at the same time to spread awareness about racism and the causes they have chosen to support.
The Rays did not use her name to profit, but rather to get attention. Breonna Taylor’s name is more than a tactic to get eyes, and while the tweet certainly got people’s attention, it may have also served as a distraction.
In the context of their other tweets of the morning it is clear the Rays said what they did as part of a wider campaign to spread awareness and use their platform for good.
Beyond the call for justice for Breonna Taylor, the Rays also tweeted about the history of systemic racism in this country, and how we were able to get to a point where people like Taylor, and George Floyd, and so many others, could be murdered and not receive the same justice as white citizens.
The Rays also made good on their pledge from spring to outline which local groups would benefit from the organization’s promised $100,000 annual donation.
Systemic racism is real. Let’s unite for positive change. pic.twitter.com/4Qgv5HmM57— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 24, 2020
For a large entity like the Rays to make these statements is a huge deal, but it’s also important to acknowledge that Breonna Taylor is not just a meme, she is a woman who spent her young life trying to help others, and deserves justice for her tragic death.