Joy and relief erupted around the country on Tuesday as Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty on Tuesday of murdering George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, during a violent arrest caught on video last May.
Then, of course, the brands got involved, giving new meaning to that old online adage: “Never tweet.”
Twitter users reacted with a mix of horror, contempt, and memes on Tuesday after the Las Vegas Raiders NFL franchise tweeted “I CAN BREATHE” following the verdict.
The Independent has reached out to the Raiders for comment.
“The fact that there were MEETINGS that went into approving this graphic and y’all made it your pinned tweet shows you gotta have the most tone deaf social media staff on the planet,” sports reporter Tyler Conway tweeted.
Meanwhile, Axios journalist Adriana Lacy responded with a simple, “Oh no, oh no, oh no no no no.”
Others responded with a variety of memes panning the major sports franchise’s conflation of itself, a multi-billion dollar enterprise, with a victim of police brutality.
Despite the awkward tweet, the Raiders were notable in that they were one of the few teams that said they were open to hiring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, one of the NFL’s few Black quarterbacks, who became a pariah in the league and went unsigned for years after kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality.
They never did hire him, but Raiders owner Mark Davis said in 2017 the team had his “blessing” to sign the activist QB if they so chose.
Other sports franchises have been more successful in recent days addressing issues of racial equality.
Major League Baseball announced earlier this month it will be relocating its widely watched All-Star Game and league draft from the city of Atlanta, saying the move is in protest of a recently signed law from Republicans in the Georgia legislature that will restrict voting access.
“Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement to ESPN. “I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.”
The commissioner said the league “fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”
The week before, the state’s Republican-controlled government passed a bill with a number of provisions that experts say will make it harder for people in dense urban areas to vote. This population tends to skew disproportionately Democratic and Black.