Jackson makes his pitch for better 'won-lost' mark 300 picket to urge minority hiring ALL-STAR GAME July 13 1993 Baltimore

July 14, 1993|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,Staff Writer

The Rev. Jesse Jackson led more than 300 demonstrators in a picket in front of Oriole Park before last night's All-Star Game to protest Major League Baseball's "won-lost" record of hiring and promoting minorities to front-office positions.

Chanting slogans such as "cut us in or cut it out" and carrying placards reading, "Jackie Robinson didn't give up and neither will we," the protesters picketed at the ballpark's south entrance for three hours, stopping about 45 minutes before the game.

The demonstration was the second protest organized by Jackson this year at Oriole Park. On Opening Day, he led a smaller protest, encouraging more front-office hirings.

"Baseball has not adopted an affirmative action law," said Jackson, president and founder of the Rainbow Coalition, a national civil rights organization. "Major League Baseball has been an obstruction to the process of affirmative action. They have a poor won-lost record."

Shortly before the Opening Day protest, Major League Baseball developed a plan for minority involvement in the sport. The seven-point plan calls for hiring more minorities and women in the front office and sensitivity training programs.

However, Jackson said yesterday that baseball is dragging its feet and called for a Department of Justice investigation into violations of antitrust laws and equal opportunity employment.

"What they have done is not adequate. It's a start, but it has a long, long way to go," Jackson said.

Local elected officials joining Jackson included U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, state Del. Salima Siler Marriott, D-40, Baltimore City, and Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes, D-2nd. Also briefly attending the protest was the Rev. Al Sharpton, a New York activist.

Rich Levin, a spokesman for Major League Baseball, said he respected the protesters' right to demonstrate. "It's their decision," he said.

Police officers formed a circle around the protesters and no incidents between demonstrators and fans attending the game were reported.

Many fans saw the pickets and shouted derogatory remarks. One man shouted at Jackson: "You've got [Orioles assistant general manager] Frank Robinson, what more do you want?" The man then ran close to pickets to have his picture taken near Jackson.

The Rev. Damien Nalepa of St. Gregory the Great Church in West Baltimore said the protest raises the consciousness of the baseball management. He added that representatives from 20 to 30 local churches attended a strategy meeting during the weekend to discuss the protest.

"It is making them aware of the problem," he said. "It's hard to measure when dealing with people who are resistant to affirmative action."

Jackson said he was pleased with the turnout and said he was undecided if his organization will picket in Baltimore again.

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