Sheriff Slams MLB Team for 'Throwing Gasoline on the Fire'

Top cop for Pinellas County, Fla., says Tampa Bay Rays shouldn't have tweeted about Breonna Taylor
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2020 3:50 PM CDT
Sheriff Slams MLB Team for 'Throwing Gasoline on the Fire'
Members of the Seattle Storm stand in front of a photo of Breonna Taylor before a WNBA basketball game against the Washington Mystics on Thursday in Bradenton, Fla.   (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

A Major League Baseball team's tweet on its first official day of play has irked a Florida sheriff, and he even called one of the team's presidents to voice his disapproval. The offending tweet came from the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday morning, but it had nothing to do with baseball. "Today is Opening Day, which means it's a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor," the team posted from its Twitter account, making reference to the Black 26-year-old EMT shot dead by police in March in her Louisville, Ky., apartment. Only one of the three police officers, who'd been executing a no-knock warrant, has been fired from the force; none has been charged with any crime. "To turn a baseball event into a political event is uncalled for," Gualtieri tells the Tampa Bay Times. "It's just wrong, and it's improper. It's just reckless. It's throwing gasoline on the fire."

In a statement from Gualtieri cited by WFTS, the GOP sheriff, who's up for reelection in November and has come out publicly against the killing of George Floyd, said Taylor's killing was "wrong and avoidable," but "the facts show that Louisville officers acted under a judge's warrant and were within department protocols." He said he called Matt Silverman, a Rays co-president, to complain about the tweet, and to reassess whether his officers will help out anymore with security or traffic control at Rays games. Gualtieri added that Silverman told him the tweet hadn't been OK'd by upper management. A spokeswoman for the Rays didn't speak to that, citing "longstanding policy not to comment on private conversations," per the Times, which notes the team has a history of supporting marginalized communities. (Read more Breonna Taylor stories.)

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