The Ravens and Orioles released statements on June 1 and 2, respectively, about racial injustice following the death of George Floyd, an African American man who was killed while in the custody of Minneapolis police May 25.
Floyd, 46, was arrested outside of a shop after being accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Derek Chauvin, one of the responding officers, was filmed pressing his left knee against Floyd’s neck and back for nearly nine minutes before he died. Floyd had already been handcuffed and was laying on the ground while Chauvin knelt on him.
Chauvin, who is white, was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, but a second-degree murder charge was added June 3. He is scheduled to appear in court June 8. On June 1, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office and an independent report commissioned by the Floyd family ruled Floyd’s death a homicide, though the parties differed on the details.
Chauvin and the three other responding officers were fired. The three other officers — Thomas Lane, J.A. Keung and Tou Thao — have been charged with aiding and abetting murder. When Floyd pleaded with officers that he could not breathe, Chauvin did not remove his knee and the other three officers did not intervene.
Floyd’s death has touched off protests across the U.S., including in Baltimore, with demonstrators calling for accountability for the death of Floyd and an end to police brutality.
The Ravens announced that the Stephen and Renee Bisciotti Foundation and the team committed $1 million to support social justice reform in Baltimore, with current and former Ravens players deciding which programs will benefit. Steve Bisciotti released the following statement:
There is nothing I can say to ease the pain felt by African-American communities across our country. No words will repair the damage that has been done.
Like many people, I am sickened, disheartened and shaken by the acts of racism that continue to overwhelm our society. The most recent killing, involving George Floyd, is yet another tragic example of the discrimination that African-Americans face each day.
Now, more than ever, we must all strengthen our pursuit of positive change, as we stand with peaceful protestors around the country. We must all seek to understand by listening better and learning more. We must all discover new ways to unite. We must all work to break the cycle of systematic racial injustice.
Our players have been – and will continue to be – at the forefront of this change. We believe in their commitment to furthering social justice and invoking meaningful change. We stand side by side with them, in full support. It is for this reason that I have asked a group of former and current Ravens players to decide which organizations should receive proceeds from the $1 million donation we are making today.
A day later, the Orioles released a statement. Amid the unrest in Baltimore in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray, John Angelos, the son of Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos, voiced his opinion about large societal issues on Twitter. Here’s what the Orioles said June 1:
Nearly six decades ago, at another low point in our country’s ongoing struggle to understand and rectify the racial injustice our fellow Americans have endured since the inception of our nation, the author James Baldwin warned, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Today, as our friends and neighbors experience the same mistreatment of generations ago in the form of engrained, unyielding, and institutionally-discriminatory systems that deny justice and equality, and provide in their place a steady supply of brutalizing misconduct, compounded in some cases by voices that fan the flames of violence and racism, it is imperative that we face the past and present.
Dr. King said, “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” The entire Orioles family expresses solidarity with the families of all who have had their lives destroyed and communities disrupted by the forces of racial bias and violent abuse.
With enduring understanding, empathy, and a peaceful resolve, we are committed to advocate for the change our country needs today and to root out racism and prejudice of any kind as we strive to make a better America in the future. Black Lives Matter.
Scores of other local teams, programs and athletes have also responded to Floyd’s death in the past several days. Here’s a handful.
Ravens Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis:
Ravens Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed:
Ravens running back Mark Ingram:
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson:
Ravens center Matt Skura:
Ravens cornerback Tavon Young:
Former Ravens safety Tony Jefferson:
Former Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce:
Former Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith:
Former Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson:
Baltimore native, activist and former NFL player Aaron Maybin:
Orioles pitcher David Hess:
Orioles infielder Richie Martin Jr.:
Orioles outfielder Dwight Smith Jr.:
Orioles pitcher Asher Wojciechowski:
Orioles catching prospect Adley Rutschman:
Former Orioles outfielder Adam Jones:
Baltimore native and San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay:
Maryland athletic director Damon Evans:
Maryland football coach Michael Locksley:
Maryland men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon:
Maryland women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese:
Coppin State tennis coach Ebonye Jones:
Morgan State president David Wilson:
Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo:
Loyola men’s basketball coach Tavaras Hardy:
Loyola athletic director Donna M. Woodruff:
Towson football coach Rob Ambrose:
Towson women’s basketball coach Diane Richardson:
UMBC men’s basketball coach Ryan Odom:
UMBC baseball coach Liam Bowen:
Note: This story was updated to reflect new charges against the four officers June 3.