July 21, 2020
(Reuters) – San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler said he would continue to speak out against racial injustice after joining his players in taking a knee during the national anthem before their exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics on Monday.
He became the first Major League Baseball manager to kneel during the anthem in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter campaign, which gained momentum after George Floyd’s death in police custody in May.
Kapler kneeled down during the anthem on Monday along with outfielders Austin Slater, Jaylin Davis and Mike Yastrzemski, as well as first base coach Antoan Richardson. He said he informed the players of his plans before the game and offered his support whether they chose to kneel with him or remain standing.
“I spoke to the group and I gave them two messages. The first was that our coaching staff and organization would support any statement they wanted to make,” Kapler said.
“The second message was what my plans were. I wanted them to know I wasn’t pleased with the way our country has handled police brutality. I told them I wanted to amplify their voices and … the voice of the Black and marginalized communities.”
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died in May after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, sparking global protests about racial inequality and police brutality.
Kapler, an outspoken backer of the Black Lives Matter movement, is entering his first season as the Giants’ manager.
(Story corrects second paragraph to clarify first kneeling happened on Monday, not earlier this year)
(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)