What should have been a routine Memorial Day video tribune turned into a mess for the Fresno Grizzlies (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), who ran a video at Chukchansi Park that deemed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) an enemy of freedom.
The video, which you can see here, ran between games of a Memorial Day doubleheader and begins as a standard Memorial Day tribute to the troops and patriotism, but then veers off into a montage of “enemies of freedom” that includes Ocasio-Cortez, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and former Cuban president Fidel Castro. The video is based on President Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address and filled with plenty of patriotic, noncontroversial imagery. Fresno is a generally conservative area where a Reagan tribute wouldn’t normally be out of line, and unless you watch the video to the end–the images of Ocasio-Cortez, Kim and Castro appear at the 3:05 minute mark of a video running 3:35 minutes, where Reagan says, “As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people”–you won’t notice anything controversial.
After criticism, the Grizzlies offered this apology in a press statement:
We are aware of the problem with the Memorial Day tribute video shown in the ballpark between games of Monday’s doubleheader.
A pre-produced video from outside our front office was selected; unfortunately what was supposed to be a moving tribute ended with some misleading and offensive editing, which made a statement that was not our intent and certainly not our opinion.
We apologize to our fans and to our community for the error and for not properly vetting the video. We also apologize to those who have served and are currently serving the country for the undue distraction on such a solemn day.
We’re embarrassed we allowed this video to play without seeing it in its entirety first. We unconditionally apologize to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez in addition to those we hurt. It was a mistake and we will ensure that nothing like it ever happens again.
For her part, Ocasio-Cortez has not directly faced the issue, preferring instead to issue this more general statement on Twitter:
What people don’t (maybe do) realize is when orgs air these hateful messages, my life changes bc of the flood of death threats they inspire.
I‘ve had mornings where I wake up & the 1st thing I do w/ my coffee is review photos of the men (it’s always men) who want to kill me. https://t.co/hiYbPghad7
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 28, 2019
Since winning election to the House of Representatives, Ocasio-Cortez has been a cause célèbre, especially on the right, where the self-defined democratic socialist has stirred criticism for a variety of statements.