MLB pulls All-Star Game out of Georgia over new voting law

Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 3:17 PM EDT
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NEW YORK - Major League Baseball has moved the All-Star Game from Atlanta’s Truist Park, a response to Georgia enacting a new law last month restricting voting rights.

MLB had awarded the game to Atlanta on May 29, 2019, and the game was scheduled for July 13 as part of baseball’s midsummer break that includes the Futures Game on July 11 and Home Run Derby the following night.

But Commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star events and the amateur draft, which had been scheduled to be held in Atlanta for the first time.

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” Manfred said.

The chief executives of Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola have now called the law “unacceptable.” Their criticism is opening an unusual rift with Republican leaders.

“Delta’s statement finally tells the truth — even if it’s late,” said Nsé Ufot of the New Georgia Project, which has launched an ad campaign targeting major corporations.

After Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the new law last week, Delta issued a statement promoting parts of the law such as expanded weekend voting, but said “we understand concerns remain over other provisions ... and there continues to be work ahead in this important effort.”

Chief Executive Ed Bastian was more blunt in a memo sent Wednesday to employees.

“The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections. This is simply not true,” Bastian wrote, alluding to former President Donald Trump’s false claims that he lost because of fraud. “Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights.”

Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger are defending the voting law.

The governor appeared Wednesday on Fox News, saying many of the attacks on the measure are focused on politics.

Georgia African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Reginald Jackson and faith-based leaders from across the state held a news conference Thursday in Atlanta outside the World of Coke Museum to show their opposition to the law.

Despite the denouncement of the law by Coca-Cola and Delta, Jackson said they hadn’t done enough to stop it, so he announced a boycott of those companies and Home Depot. He said the boycott could expand to other Georgia-based companies including UPS, Aflac, Georgia Power and UBS.

“These corporations did not speak out publicly or take a public position on SB 202 before it passed,” Jackson said. “In fact, Delta Air Lines wrote an in-house memo that praised SB 202 claiming that it was considerably improved.”

Jackson said the chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola said in June of last year that “our company can do better, we must stand as allies with Black lives matter and other social justice causes.”

“Well, when it had a chance to publicly stand with Black and brown people, it did not,” he said. “Home Depot has said nothing. Black and Brown people all across this country and around the world pay billions of dollars for their products and fill their coffers. Well we cannot and will not support the companies who do not support us in our struggle to cast our ballots and exercise our freedom. And we cannot support companies who support or remain silent about legislation that is based on a lie, seeks to suppress our vote, is racist and seeks to turn back time to Jim Crow.”

He said the companies must:

  • Publicly announce their opposition to SB 202 and seek to have the legislation reconsidered.
  • Speak out against legislation proposed in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Texas and other states “with the intent to suppress the votes of Black and brown voters.”
  • Publicly express these companies support of HR 1 (For the People Act) and HR 4, (Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019) federal legislation that blocks much of what has passed in Georgia and is included in state legislation.
  • Support litigation against SB 202 seeking to have legislation ruled unconstitutional.

Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon spoke out Thursday for the first time after being arrested at the Capitol a week earlier.

She was knocking on the governor’s door while he was signing the new voting bill into law.

Cannon was charged with disrupting a General Assembly.

On Thursday, she spoke out about those charges and the public response by Georgia businesses.

“I am facing eight years in prison on unfounded charges,” she said.

She called the legislation “a law with such nefarious qualities that several of Georgia’s Fortune 500 companies have began knocking on the door, too.”

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