The Republican governor of the US state of Georgia slammed Major League Baseball (MLB) after the league ad he would move this year’s All-Star Game and MLB draft to the state’s new restrictive voting law.
Signed at the end of last month, the legislation disproportionately deprives black voters in Georgia, which has a history of racial discrimination – and it has drawn widespread scolding from local communities, rights advocates, lawmakers and businesses.
“I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is to move this year’s All-Star Game and the MLB Draft,” MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred said in a statement. declaration Friday. The events were to take place in Atlanta.
“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports the voting rights of all Americans and opposes restrictions at the ballot box,” said Manfred.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp fired back on Saturday, saying the state would defend the legislation in court. The Republican leader accused the MLB of giving in “to the fear and lies of liberal activists”.
Today, @MLB succumbed to fear, political expediency and liberal lies.
– Governor Brian P. Kemp (@GovKemp) April 2, 2021
“I want to be clear: I will not back down from this fight. We will not be intimidated and neither will we be silenced, ”said Kemp, who also criticized US companies that supported the MLB move.
Coca-Cola Co and Delta Airlines joined last week an offer by American companies to challenge new voting rules, which impose stricter identity requirements, limit ballot boxes and make it a crime for people to offer food and water to voters in line, among other measures.
Civil rights groups in Georgia have filed a civil lawsuit against the legislation, while US President Joe Biden has called the restrictions “An atrocity” and “a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience”.
Mike Hanna of Al Jazeera, of Washington, DC, said on Saturday that other US states, such as Texas and Florida, were considering similar election legislation. The difference, he said, is that companies have already spoken out against these potential laws.
“It’s something that has a major national impact, which doesn’t just concern Georgia, it seems,” Hanna said.
Before the MLB decision was announced, The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin wrote that “Georgia has become the ground zero in the fight to suppress voters.” in the USA.
“If the national pastime holds its first event in Georgia, it gives an Americana patina to a state that codifies one of the most obscene parts of the history of this country,” he said.
Zirin also stressed that the MLB decision would not be unprecedented; the National Basketball Association (NBA) moved its 2017 All-Star Game out of North Carolina due to anti-transgender legislation, and the National Football League (NFL) moved the 1993 Super Bowl from Arizona as she did not recognize Martin Luther King’s birthday.
Georgia Democratic organizer Stacey Abrams, known for helping Democrats win two U.S. Senate seats in the state this year, said she was disappointed the All-Star Game moved from Atlanta, but said congratulated the MLB for speaking out.
Abrams said Republicans who passed the law “did so knowing the economic risks to our state” and “made it a priority to make it harder for people of color to vote on the economic well-being of all. the Georgians ”.
The Miami Marlins and Baltimore Orioles of the MLB also praised the league’s decision. “We are united with Commissioner Manfred in denouncing this malicious legislative effort to clamp down on voters in Georgia and other state legislatures,” the Orioles said in a statement. declaration.
Last month Biden signed an order to encourage American voter turnout amid a torrent of Republican legislative efforts to restrict voting after former President Donald Trump falsely claimed that the November 2020 presidential election was stolen from him due to a widespread fraud.
New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, which monitors electoral legislation across the country, reported as of March 24, “lawmakers have introduced 361 bills containing restrictive provisions in 47 states.”
This represents a 43% increase from the Feb.19 tally, the center said.