Among the “enemies of freedom” portrayed in a Memorial Day tribute video at a minor league baseball game: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, former Cuban president Fidel Castro and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
The video, shown between games of the Fresno Grizzlies’ doubleheader Monday, displayed President Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address on top of patriotic photos and images honoring veterans. A Fresno Bee reporter first pointed out the video on Twitter.
“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,” Reagan said as a photo of Ocasio-Cortez flashed across the screen between photos of dictators. “We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it. We will not surrender for it, now or ever.”
On Tuesday evening, Ocasio-Cortez issued an emphatic response, writing on Twitter that messages like the one in the baseball team’s video are the reason she’s bombarded with death threats and hate-filled calls, emails and social media posts.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”
The Grizzlies, the Class AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals, said in a statement posted on Twitter that they had not seen the full video beforehand. The team apologized for not properly vetting it and for taking attention away from veterans.
“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,” the Grizzlies wrote of the video that played at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, Calif, a city in the heart of the state’s more conservative Central Valley.
The Grizzlies staff member responsible for the video was “remorseful,” team spokesman Paul Braverman told The Washington Post in an email. Braverman confirmed that the team would conduct an internal review to determine how the video bypassed internal controls meant to prevent this kind of incident.
Asked to comment, the Nationals referred to the Fresno club’s statement. The parent club shares no front-office connection with or control over the off-field actions of its affiliate.
Ocasio-Cortez, a high-profile freshman congresswoman, is a frequent target of conservatives’ ire. A Washington Examiner writer tweeted a photo of one of her outfits and commented that her clothes “don’t look like a girl who struggles.”
And the Ohio Federation of College Republicans recently sent a fundraising email with a subject line calling Ocasio-Cortez “a domestic terrorist.” This, too, provoked death threats that had to be referred to Capitol Police, she said then, adding that "This puts me in danger every time.”
Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee has also suggested Ocasio-Cortez had been brainwashed by foreign agents to bring down the United States from the inside.
In another tweet on Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez said the network’s rhetoric often prompts “aggressive + hateful” messages that her interns sometimes hear. She challenged her critics, especially Republicans, who she accused of championing free speech while also using language that makes it more difficult to be a lawmaker or an advocate.
“All of this is to say that words matter, and can have consequences for safety,” she said. “For those who believe in ‘free speech’: whose free speech do you believe in?”