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An open letter to the Chicago Cubs

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Now is the time for you to say more.

Photo by @WillByington / www.willbyington.com

To the Ricketts family and the Chicago Cubs organization,

As lifelong Cubs fans and members of the Cubs community, we read the statement the Cubs issued June 2 regarding the protests in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Additionally, we appreciate the team’s decision to use the historic Wrigley Field marquee to join with the voices of thousands calling for an end to racism in Chicago, the use of the same marquee to mourn the death of George Floyd and the Cubs’ decision to join citywide charitable efforts to support the South and West sides of Chicago. And Monday, President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein acknowledged the lack of Black executives in front offices and pledged to do more.

We also see these efforts as starting points and write today asking for clarity on additional steps the organization plans to take to combat systemic police violence against Black people and rebuilding historically disenfranchised neighborhoods in Chicago.

Bill Baer of Hardball Talk and NBC Sports produced a rubric to evaluate team statements on the protests. It identified key areas where the Cubs statement was lacking including: failing to mention George Floyd by name, failing to say “Black Lives Matter,” failing to condemn police violence, failing to avoid respectability politics, failing to avoid vague language, and failing to describe meaningful action.

Statements cannot be unwritten, but we write today to ask the Chicago Cubs to identify the specific and meaningful actions the organization plans to pursue to address systemic police violence against Black people and inequality in the city going forward.

We write this letter as the images and stories of police violence against protesters, press and passerby continue in Chicago this past week. As Mayor Lightfoot noted, Chicago has a deep history of police violence, specifically against Black people. In the past week, we’ve seen an officer run over a 16-year-old girl in Roseland, shove and club protesters, and pepper spray reporters. We’ve also seen reports that officers dragged a woman who was shopping with friends from her car on the afternoon of May 31 in a mall parking lot, ultimately kneeling on her neck in an action hauntingly reminiscent of the way George Floyd was killed.

These are not isolated incidents. Since protests in Chicago over Floyd’s killing began Friday, May 29 the head of the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability reports 344 complaints have been made against the Chicago Police Department for excessive force, denial of counsel, improper search and seizure and verbal abuse. One of those complaints is from Ghian Foreman, president of the Chicago Police Board, the independent civilian-led board that decides disciplinary cases involving police. Foreman’s complaint alleges that officers struck his legs with batons at least five times while he marched to protest police brutality. We all pay the price of police brutality - police misconduct lawsuits cost Chicago taxpayers an astounding $113 million in 2018 alone. Similar images and stories are pouring in from Buffalo to Atlanta and Washington, DC to Los Angeles. There are far too many to list.

We all stand at a precipice of history that demands more than words and promises. The Cubs are one of the most visible institutions in the city with a tremendous amount of resources at their disposal. The words on the marquee are a start. Now we call on this historic franchise to spell out specific, tangible actions the Cubs will lead and support to address police violence against Black people and rebuilding historically disenfranchised neighborhoods in Chicago in equitable ways.

Sincerely and respectfully, the staff of Bleed Cubbie Blue,

Al Yellon
Sara Sanchez
Ashley MacLennan
Duane Pesice
Andi Cruz Vanecek