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The Seattle Mariners say they are “very disappointed” in tweets sent by catcher Steve Clevenger on Thursday that were critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, President Obama and the protests in Charlotte that turned violent Wednesday night.
Clevenger, who is out for the season because of hand and elbow injuries, referenced Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest and suggested people involved in the Charlotte protests “should be locked behind bars like animals.” Shortly after sending out those statements, Clevenger made his Twitter account private. Here are screenshots of the tweets:
The protests in Charlotte started after police shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old African-American man, at an apartment complex Tuesday. The protests initially started peacefully, but eventually turned violent. At least one person was shot during the riots Wednesday.
Later Thursday, after the swift response to Clevenger’s tweets, he issued a statement through Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, apologizing and saying he’s “sickened by the idea” of people thinking he’s racist. Here’s his entire statement:
“First and foremost I would like to apologize to the Seattle Mariners, my teammates, my family and the fans of our great game for the distraction my tweets on my personal twitter page caused when they went public earlier today. I am sickened by the idea that anyone would think of me in racist terms. My tweets were reactionary to the events I saw on the news and were worded beyond poorly at best and I can see how and why someone could read into my tweets far more deeply than how I actually feel.
“I grew up on the streets of Baltimore, a city I love to this very day. I grew up in a very culturally diverse area of America and I am very proud to come from there. I am also proud that my inner circle of friends has never been defined by race but by the content of their character. Any former teammate or anyone who has met me can attest to this and I pride myself on not being a judgemental person. I just ask that the public not judge me because of an ill worded tweet.
“I do believe that supporting our First Amendment rights and supporting local law enforcement are not mutually exclusive. With everything going on in the world I really just want what is best for everyone regardless of who they are. I like many Americans are frustrated by a lot of things in the world and I would like to be a part of the dialogue moving forward to make this a better world for everyone.
“I once again apologize to anyone who was offended today and I just ask you not judge me off of a social media posting. Thank you and God bless everyone.”
Protests focusing on how minorities are treated in the United States has become a major focus in sports over the past few weeks. Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback, got the conversation started by sitting, and then eventually kneeling during the National Anthem. He has since been joined by teammate Eric Reid, as well as other players around the league, such as Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.
Teams and individuals from other sports have also taken part in the protests. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who happens to play for the Seattle Reign FC, knelt prior to a match against Thailand. The entire Indiana Fever took a knee prior during the National Anthem prior to Wednesday’s playoff game against Phoenix.
While the NBA season hasn’t started yet, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said every American should be “disgusted” with the recent shootings around the country. The league and player’s union sent out a memo to players in order to develop “substantive ways for us to come together and take meaningful action.”
Outside of comments made by Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, few within the baseball world have spoken on the issue. Jones was blunt when asked why that’s the case, saying “baseball is a white man’s sport” and he doesn’t expect any protests from black players within its ranks.
Arizona Diamondbacks chief baseball operator Tony La Russa had a different take, saying he would encourage any player who wanted to protest during the anthem to “sit inside the clubhouse.”
More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:
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