Several sponsors have ended their partnerships with the Fresno Grizzlies after the minor league team showed a video on Memorial Day that was edited in a way that appeared to place Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez among “enemies of freedom,” including North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
The video was shown by the Fresno Grizzlies, the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals, during a break between the team’s doubleheader home games against the El Paso Chihuahuas on Monday.
The Fresno Bee reported that Heineken International ended its relationship with the Fresno Grizzlies. The company’s Dos Equis and Tecate beer brands sponsored the team.
The raisin company Sun-Maid terminated its sponsorship of the Fresno Grizzlies on Wednesday.
The three-minute, 35-second-long video, which the team said in a statement was “pre-produced…from outside [their] front office,” featured audio clips from former President Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address in 1981 over images and videos of America, members of the military and Arlington National Cemetery. The team said the video was meant to be shown as “a moving tribute."
Freshman lawmaker Ocasio-Cortez responded in a tweet on Tuesday by saying videos such as the one played by the team often lead to death threats and other hateful messages.
In the video, when Reagan’s speech refers to “enemies of freedom” and “potential adversaries,” a photo of Ocasio-Cortez was shown between images of Kim Jong Un and Fidel Castro.
The Grizzlies called the video's editing "misleading and offensive" and said it “made a statement that was not [the team’s] intent and certainly not [the team’s] opinion.”
“We apologize to our fans and to our community for the error and for not properly vetting the video,” the Grizzlies tweeted Tuesday. “We also apologize to those who have served and are currently serving the country for the undue distraction on such a solemn day.”
Paul Braverman, the Grizzlies’ media relations manager, told ABC News the video was “selected in haste from YouTube” and that the employee who chose it was “completely remorseful."
“We're embarrassed we allowed this video to play without seeing it in its entirety first,” the Grizzlies tweeted. “We unconditionally apologize to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) in addition to our fans, community and those we hurt. It was a mistake and we will ensure that nothing like it ever happens again.”