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Pete Ricketts, the governor of Nebraska and former Chicago Cubs co-owner, apologizes for 'you people' comment during a meeting with black community leaders

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a former co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, apologized for referring to black people as "you people" during a meeting with community leaders in Omaha.

Ricketts' comment was relayed in a video posted on Facebook by Pastor Jarrod Parker of St. Mark Baptist Church, who called Ricketts a "racist" and asked for the comment to go viral.

Parker met Monday with Ricketts, the Omaha police chief and other black leaders in the community about the shooting of a 22-year-old black man by a white bar owner during protests of the George Floyd killing.

"Pete Ricketts said, 'The problem I have with you people ...' " Parker said in the video. "Did you hear what I just said? Gov. Ricketts said, 'The problem I have with you people.' And ladies and gentlemen, I walked out of the police chief's office. I walked out on Gov. Pete Ricketts as he said, he called us 'you people.' Make this go viral. He called black pastors and black leaders in Omaha 'you people,' and I walked out on him.

"That's why the city is going to go up in flames, Mrs. Mayor and Mr. (police) chief. You're not listening, and you can't listen because at the top of the state is a racist governor."

After the video appeared, Ricketts issued a statement saying, "I chose my words poorly, and apologized when it became apparent that I had caused offense."

 

Ricketts called in to an Omaha radio show Tuesday hosted by black radio personality William King, asking King to "charge it to my head, not my heart."

"My heart is with working with the communities of North and South Omaha to improve the lives of people there," Ricketts said. "In the heat of the moment, I said things that were trigger words."

Ricketts added he's "learning the culture" of the African American community and "I made a mistake ... I'm sorry."

The Cubs released this statement Tuesday in the aftermath of the Floyd killing and the ensuing unrest in Chicago and other cities: "The Chicago Cubs condemn racism in all its forms and decry violence against members of the black community. Bias and discrimination have no place in our society. We support peaceful protests and pledge to channel our energies to rebuilding our city, especially the disenfranchised neighborhoods, as a way to build a stronger Chicago. By our example we hope to build bridges and elevate the issue of equality for all members of society."

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