The gesture, made by a fan during a live TV appearance by NBC Sports Chicago analyst Doug Glanville, was denounced by many as being associated with racist beliefs, and Epstein said that the behavior has no place at Wrigley Field.
“The incident last night is truly disgusting,” he told reporters in the clubhouse before the game. “It gave me shivers to watch that, to see that take place at Wrigley Field. Appropriately, we’ve made clear how egregious and unacceptable that behavior is, and there’s no place for that in society, in baseball, and Wrigley Field. The person responsible for that gesture will never be welcomed back at Wrigley Field.”
Earlier Wednesday, Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney denounced the behavior, saying that those types of gestures and actions won’t be tolerated at the ballpark.
“Any individual behaving in this manner will not only be removed from the ballpark, but will be permanently banned from Wrigley Field,” he said.
Glanville applauded the organization’s actions on the matter, and said that the team has been supportive of him in the aftermath of the incident.
“They have reached out to me and are supportive of my role in the broadcast and continue to have a desire to uphold an inclusive environment at Wrigley Field,” Glanville said in a statement. “They have displayed sensitivity to how the implications of this would affect me as a person of color.”
Epstein echoed Glanville’s comments about fostering diversity at the historic ballpark, calling them the “values” that the team tries to live by.
“It’s important to send a message that this is a place of inclusion. This is a place of connectedness. We are a welcoming organization,” he said. ”We value diversity and inclusion. Those are the values that are present in the clubhouse every single day, and that’s what we stand for.
“When there are episodes that threaten that or challenge that, even as a fan acting on his own, you have to have a strong response to reinforce your values. Ultimately organizations are defined by their actions. Last night was a threat and a challenge, and it was appropriate that the business side had a strong response to it,” he added.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the gesture used by the fan was co-opted by white supremacist groups as a “sincere expression of white supremacy.” The gesture was originally labeled as a supremacist act as a “hoax” on 4chan, according to the ADL, and was ultimately adopted after white supremacists “seemed to have abandoned the ironic or satiric intent behind the original trolling campaign,” the group said.