Seattle Mariners catcher Steve Clevenger said he’s sorry — and not racist — for comparing Black Lives Matter protesters to animals on his Twitter account.
The baseball player mocked the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott and NFL players who are refusing to participate in the national anthem to protest racist police violence, reported the Baltimore Sun.
“Black people beating whites when a thug got shot holding a gun by a black officer haha sh*t cracks me up. Keep kneeling for the Anthem!” Clevenger posted. “BLM is pathetic once again! Obama you are pathetic once again! Everyone involved should be locked behind bars like animals!”
Clevenger deleted his Twitter account after other social media users called him out, and then returned with enhanced privacy settings, but the offensive posts were captured in screen shots.
— Jon Humbert (@jonhumbert) September 22, 2016
Update: The Mariners suspended Clevenger without pay for the rest of the season under player discipline rules under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.
The player, who hasn’t played since suffering a broken hand and elbow injury in June, issued a statement to apologize to everyone except Scott’s family and the demonstrators he insulted.
“I am sickened by the idea that anyone would think of me in racist terms,” Clevenger said. “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,” he continued. “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 (sic) person. I just ask that the public not judge me because of an ill worded tweet.”
He admitted NFL players had every right to protest police violence by kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” and insisted his teammates would agree he’s not racist.
“I do believe that supporting our First Amendment rights and supporting local law enforcement are not mutually exclusive,” Clevenger said. “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.”
Clevenger’s former teammate, Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, said last week that black Major League Baseball players didn’t feel comfortable engaging in similar protests because comparatively few of them.
“We already have two strikes against us already, so you might as well not kick yourself out of the game,” Jones told USA Today. “In football, you can’t kick them out. You need those players. In baseball, they don’t need us. Baseball is a white man’s sport.”