Third base coach Rodney Linares of the Tampa Bay Rays wears a Black Lives Matter shirt before an MLB game against the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park on Wednesday in Atlanta. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
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'It's just wrong, and it's improper'
A sheriff in Florida is reconsidering his department's relationship with the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball after a post on the team's Twitter account called for the arrest of the police officers responsible for Breonna Taylor's death, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
What's this about? On July 24, opening day of the Major League Baseball season, the official Twitter account for the Tampa Bay Rays posted: "Today is Opening Day, which means it's a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor."
Taylor was shot and killed in her home on March 13 by Louisville Metropolitan Police Department officers who were serving a no-knock warrant at her home in the middle of the night based on suspicion of her involvement with drug trafficking. The officers, Sgt. Jon Mattingly, and Detectives Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison, have not been charged. Hankison was fired in June.
Law enforcement upset: Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told the Tampa Bay Times that he called Rays President Matt Silverman last weekend to complain about the tweet.
"To turn a baseball event into a political event is uncalled for," Gualtieri said. "It's just wrong, and it's improper. It's just reckless. It's throwing gasoline on the fire, and it didn't need to happen."
The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office provides some security services for Rays games, but now Gualtieri isn't sure that will continue. Gualtieri said Silverman told him the tweet had not been approved by the highest levels of the organization. However, a week later, the tweet is still active, indicating that the team stands by it.
St. Petersburg Police Department Chief Anthony Holloway also didn't like the tweet and said he "disagreed with its characterization of the officers," but said his department will continue providing security services for the team.
"I called the Rays organization and we had a long discussion," Holloway told the Tampa Bay Times, "However, this one 'tweet' will not impact our commitment as a professional agency to provide a secure environment for fans at future Rays games."
Social justice and sports are inseparable now: The major professional sports leagues are all featuring some level of social justice protest, with players from MLB and the NBA kneeling during or before the national anthem, and the NBA featuring the phrase "Black Lives Matter" on the court. The NFL will have anti-racism phrases in the end zones when its season begins later this year.
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