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Orioles COO John Angelos puts baseball, civil rights and protests in perspective

John Angelos

Todd Olszewski

So often when there are protests or disruptions or strife in or around professional sports, we revert to thinking of how it impacts professional sports and don’t go much farther. Even if we do and offer the “hey, this really puts sports in perspective” it’s more lip service. Maybe well-meaning lip service that we truly believe at the time, but our thoughts, prayers and everything else we may give to such issues and causes usually don’t last. We turn back to the sports pretty darn quickly.

Over the weekend we saw protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, who was mortally injured while in police custody, turn violent. The protests reached the gates of Camden Yards, where the Orioles and Red Sox played. As is normally the case, the world of sports thought about it and talked about it. As is usually the case, our attention will likely wane some going forward.

But Orioles COO John Angelos did not offer the usual cliches and platitudes in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent disruption. He dropped the sort of statement that one does not normally hear from someone in Angelos’ position. Via USA Today’s FTW, which assembled Angelos’ Twitter replies to a local radio host into a more easily readable statement:

Brett, speaking only for myself, I agree with your point that the principle of peaceful, non-violent protest and the observance of the rule of law is of utmost importance in any society. MLK, Gandhi, Mandela and all great opposition leaders throughout history have always preached this precept. Further, it is critical that in any democracy, investigation must be completed and due process must be honored before any government or police members are judged responsible.

That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

You may agree or disagree with any or all of those words. But you can’t deny that they are remarkable words coming from someone in Angelos’ position.