NEW YORK (Reuters) – Major League Baseball (MLB) called for action “both within our sport and society,” after the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis prompted protests and calls for reform across the United States.
Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old black man, died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25, reigniting the explosive issue of police brutality against African Americans.
“MLB is committed to engaging our communities to invoke change,” the league said in a statement released on Wednesday.
“We will take the necessary time, effort and collaboration to address symptoms of systemic racism, prejudice and injustice, but will be equally as focused on the root of the problem.”
The statement came more than a week after Floyd’s death after protests ramped up across the United States and the league faced mounting criticism as the last of the five major men’s professional sports leagues to speak out.
As of Tuesday, only a third of all MLB clubs had issued releases, according to research by Axios, while a handful of individual current and former players made statements of their own.
“Enough is Enough. It’s going to take everyone to help this system change,” Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton tweeted on Saturday.
MLB, which every year celebrates Jackie Robinson Day, in honor of the first African-American man to play in the league, said in a Twitter post along with its statement: “We want to be better, we need to be better, and this is our promise to do the work.”
The league, whose season was upended by the coronavirus outbreak, is currently locked in debate with its players over a possible shorter season, with games fielded without fans.
(Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by David Gregorio)