Twins outfielder apologizes for photo wearing 'Blue Lives Matter' mask amid George Floyd protests

Minnesota Twins outfielder Max Kepler apologized Thursday after receiving backlash for a social media post that seemed to throw support behind police amid Minneapolis protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

Floyd — an unarmed black man — died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck. A video captured Floyd, 46, saying “I can't breathe” multiple times.

Kepler originally posted a selfie of himself wearing a “Blue Lives Matter” flag face mask with an American flag and one singular blue stripe in the middle. The design represents the 2014 countermovement to Black Lives Matter, the anti-police violence organization.

The post came amid protests against police brutality in Minneapolis and drew immediate backlash.

“Wasn’t aware what the mask supported. still not into politics,” Kepler wrote in an Instagram story that was deleted. Moments later, Kepler offered a more formal apology.

From The New York Daily News:

Earlier, I posted a photo of me in a mask that was sent to me by a company, to wear during the pandemic. I had no idea that the mask had any underlying inference -- I simply thought it looked good. After I was informed, I immediately took down the post.

I take complete responsibility for not knowing what I was wearing. I am truly sorry for the hurt and pain my actions have caused, especially now.

Racism has no place in our world and I do not in any way support the actions that we all witnessed that led to George Floyd's passing. My sympathies are with the Floyd family.

Kepler, 27, was born in Germany and attended high school in Berlin. He didn’t move to the United States until after he was drafted by the Twins in 2009. In a separate response, he says he didn’t realize what the blue line stood for since the primary police color in Germany is green.

The Twins have not yet commented on Kepler’s post.

Earlier Thursday, they released the following statement on George Floyd’s death.

Any player in Major League Baseball, or sports in general, seen posting this photo would be open to criticism and asked to explain his or her position. That it came from a player representing Minnesota made it all the more shocking.

It is possible that Kepler wasn’t fully aware of the mask’s message. However, the timing is suspect enough that he’ll have a difficult time earning the benefit of the doubt.

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