The Tampa Bay Rays used baseball’s long-awaited Opening Day to engage in a bit of social activism.
The baseball team marked the kickoff of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season with a message calling for justice in the killing of Breonna Taylor, a Kentucky woman who was shot to death during a botched police raid earlier this year. Taylor’s shooting death was a major cause of the growing nationwide protests that followed the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. While the officers involved in Floyd’s arrest have since been charged for his murder, none of the officers that took part in the raid of Taylor’s home have faced charges.
A number of sports figures are raising their voices to call for justice for Taylor, and the Rays joined them on Friday.
“Today is Opening Day, which means it’s a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor,” the team tweeted in the afternoon before their first game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The message attracted some viral interest, racking up more than a quarter of a million likes and more than 80,000 retweets. Many praised the team for using its platform to bring attention to the issue.
“Thank you for sharing the message. Go Rays,” one person wrote.
But many others pushed back against the message, telling the team to steer clear of political issues and social activism. Others argued that Taylor, whose boyfriend was initially arrested for opening fire on police officers before the charges were ultimately dropped, was not murdered and that the shooting was something of a tragic accident.
The Rays are not alone in speaking out on Taylor’s killing in the sports world. Earlier this week, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James said that the officers involved in her death should face charges.
“We want the cops arrested who committed that crime,” James said, via Sports Illustrated.
“Obviously in the state of Kentucky, what’s going down there, I know a lot of people are feeling the same. And us as the NBA, and us as the players, and me as one of the leaders of this league, I want her family to know and I want the state of Kentucky to know that we feel for it and we want justice.”
A number of Rays players took part in activism before the kickoff of the MLB season, taking a knee during the national anthem as part of a growing protest against police brutality.