Staten Island Yankees Hold ‘Blue Lives Matter’ Event on Anniversary of Michael Brown’s Death

The minor-league baseball team unapologetically spits in the face of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Promotional flier for the Staten Island Yankees “Blue Lives Matter” event
Promotional flier for the Staten Island Yankees “Blue Lives Matter” event

As social-justice activists and supporters around the nation joined the family of slain teen Michael Brown—gunned down by now-former Ferguson, Mo., Police Officer Darren Wilson—to commemorate the anniversary of his death one year ago Sunday and the global movement it sparked, the Staten Island Yankees, a minor-league baseball team in New York City, held a “Blue Lives Matter” event under the guise of honoring police officers killed in the line of duty.

One of the most high-profile cases of police brutality, the choke hold death of 43-year-old Eric Garner at the hands of Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, took place in Staten Island July 17 of last year.

Tickets for Sunday’s game, first announced in March, were $25, and the first pitch was thrown out by the families of Detective Wenjian Lui and Detective Rafael Ramos, both members of the New York City Police Department, who were killed in the line of duty in December of last year.

Their deaths prompted members of the NYPD to refuse to do their alleged jobs—protecting citizens and not profiling and shooting them. They, instead, grabbed their batons and went home. On Sunday, “Blue Lives Matters” wristbands were passed out to all attendees at the gate as they trooped in to watch the Staten Island Yankees take on the Brooklyn Cyclones.

A reader of The Root called out the organization for its clear display of insensitivity and callousness, writing the following to Staten Island Yankees executive Michael Holley:

Wow, could this promotion be any more offensive, divisive and disrespectful. On the anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, this is what the SI Yankees organization chooses to do? This is beyond poor judgement. Did it occur to anyone at the SI Yankees how alienating this is to fans who have been deeply affected by the events that spurred the “Black Lives Matter” movement, including those right here in Staten Island? … I will no longer attend games, nor will I recommend them to others until an apology and amends are made for this utterly tasteless promotion. I intend to write the NY Yankees Front Office and the Baseball Commissioner’s office to lodge a formal complaint and urge others to do the same. You should know better, and be better. This is a disgrace to the entire Yankees organization.

Below is Holley’s response, according to a statement the reader forwarded to The Root:

I am saddened to hear that you are upset with our program and this promotion, but I’m glad you took the time to send your feedback.

We at the Staten Island Yankees have been greatly affected by these issues along with everyone else in the St. George community. We all know that the protests in Manhattan and Brooklyn have stolen the headlines, but I truly believe that those that occurred here in Staten Island were the most heart-breaking—we all watched through our office windows as family and friends of Eric Garner stood in protest, notably with a lack of any sort of violence or, frankly, any sort of direction at times. To watch those take place was to feel an overwhelming sense of loss and sadness above all else. Here on Staten Island, people were sad and confused, not violent and angry. Nowhere else was it more abundantly clear that we are truly no winners in this struggle. I’ll remember those moments forever.