Steve Kerr

Tim Anderson among hundreds of athletes supporting police-accountability bill

Tim Anderson among hundreds of athletes supporting police-accountability bill

White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson was one of more than 1,400 athletes to sign a letter from the Players Coalition to Congress supporting a police-accountability bill.

The list of other players and coaches who signed the letter is a long one and includes another current Chicago baseball player, Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward; current Bears safety Jordan Lucas and tight end Darion Clark; three-time champion Bulls guard and current Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr; former Bears defensive coordinator and current Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio; Chicago native and DePaul basketball product Quentin Richardson; as well as current and former players and coaches from three different leagues such as Tom Brady, Giancarlo Stanton, Adrian Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Gregg Popovich, Ed Reed and CC Sabathia.

"We are tired of conversations around police accountability that go nowhere, and we have engaged in too many 'listening sessions' where we discuss whether there is a problem of police violence in this country. There is a problem," the letter reads. "The world witnessed it when Officer Chauvin murdered George Floyd, and the world is watching it now, as officers deploy enormous force on peaceful protestors like those who were standing outside of the White House last week. The time for debate about the unchecked authority of the police is over; it is now time for change."

RELATED: Tim Anderson won't stick to sports: 'This problem is bigger than baseball'

The letter supports a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to end qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that shields government officials, including police officers, from being held personally liable for constitutional violations in civil trials. Bringing an end to the doctrine has been one of many recommendations for reform put forth during the ongoing protests against police brutality against Black Americans in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Representatives Justin Amash and Ayanna Presley introduced the bill.

As the letter points out, the doctrine of qualified immunity has often been used to make it nearly impossible for police officers to be held personally accountable for using excessive force, as it requires the court to find the officers violated a "clearly established" law.

"It is time for Congress to eliminate qualified immunity, and it can do so by passing the Amash-Pressley bill," the players wrote. "When police officers kill an unarmed man, when they beat a woman, or when they shoot a child, the people of this country must have a way to hold them accountable in a court of law. And officers must know that if they act in such a manner, there will be repercussions.

"A legal system that does not provide such a recourse is an illegitimate one. In their grief, people have taken to the streets because for too long, their government has failed to protect them. The Courts and elected officials alike have instead shielded people who caused unspeakable harm. Congress must not be complicit in these injustices, and it should take this important step to show that law enforcement abuse will not be tolerated."

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Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, Anquan Boldin offer solutions to US racial inequity

Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, Anquan Boldin offer solutions to US racial inequity

Steve Kerr joined Gregg Popovich, Anquan Boldin, Demario Davis and Andrew McCutchen to co-author an op-ed offering concrete solutions to address some of the problems raised by protesters across the country.

To achieve a more equitable justice system for people of color, the op-ed says police need to be held accountable for their actions.

“When these killings occur, we tweet, we write letters, we make videos demanding accountability,” Kerr et al. said. “We protest and we vow to change hearts and minds so that our young men can run through the streets without fear.

“And soon after, we see another officer kill a black person, usually a man, and usually without consequence. Where, we wonder, is the ‘accountability’ allegedly so important when it comes to arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating young people of color?”

The problem, Kerr et al. say, is that police supervisors simply don’t have the power to take away a bad officer’s badge.

“Among the greatest obstacles to cleaning up our police departments are police union contracts, which hamstring officials’ ability to fire officers who engage in bad and even deadly behavior,” Kerr et al. said. “Those contracts, nearly always negotiated behind closed doors, have clauses that determine how misbehavior may be disciplined. Many contracts prevent departments from investigating reports made by anonymous civilians. They allow officers accused of serious misconduct to review the complaint and the evidence before making statements to investigators, ensuring that they can craft their story to best explain whatever the evidence will show...

“In the rare case that a department pursues disciplinary action, many contracts require arbitration, which almost always results in reduced sanctions. In a survey of data compiled from 37 police departments in 2017, The Washington Post found that of 1,881 officers fired since 2006, 451 appealed and received their jobs back — nearly 25%.”

RELATED: Mitchell Trubisky breaks social media silence to support George Floyd protests

The op-ed says these contracts are renegotiated every few years, so if you’d like them to change it’s not hopeless.

“In Philadelphia, for example, the mayor renegotiates the police union contract next year. In Minneapolis, it is renegotiated every three years and is in negotiations now. We must demand that our elected officials remove terms explicitly designed to protect officers from investigation and discipline if we are going to have accountability and safety.”

The second suggestion the op-ed makes is doing away with “qualified immunity” for cops, which protects them “from legal liability for even the most outrageous conduct,” unless a legal precedent has been set with “basically identical facts.”

They elaborate by saying “qualified immunity” can be used to protect cops from wide-ranging accusations.

“One court, for example, found an officer had qualified immunity after he let his dog maul a homeless man,” Kerr et al. said. “In another case, officers who tried to steal $225,000 while on the job received immunity.”

Again, the heart of the matter for Kerr, Popovich, Boldin, Davis and McCutchen is accountability.

“Citizens face consequences for breaking the law and harming others; our government should make sure officers are no different.”

RELATED: Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts calls black leaders 'you people,' apologizes

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Why Steve Kerr credits Michael Jordan, Bulls' title runs for all he's achieved

Why Steve Kerr credits Michael Jordan, Bulls' title runs for all he's achieved

Steve Kerr has seemingly become the go-to expert on basketball dynasties, the ever-quotable person with perspective from both playing in one and coaching another.

And to hear the Warriors' coach tell it, his former Bulls teammate Michael Jordan is the reason for it all.

“I owe him everything,” Kerr said on NBC Sports’ “Sports Uncovered” podcast.

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Kerr had played five unheralded seasons in the NBA when he signed with the Bulls as a free agent in September 1993. Jordan’s stunning first retirement mere days later only delayed the seemingly inevitable.

Jordan returned in 1995. The Bulls won three more championships, one of which featured Jordan feeding Kerr for a Finals-clinching, foul-line jumper to beat the Utah Jazz in 1997.

Kerr, who later won two NBA championships with the Spurs, kept falling upward in his post-playing career.

“For me, [playing with Jordan] completely changed the rest of my life,” Kerr said on the podcast. “To that point, I had bounced around. I was just an average player. I was able to play on these championship teams, made a name for myself, was able to get into TV, into broadcasting, into management and coaching. And the reason people hired me for these jobs later on is because I had played next to Michael Jordan and I had been part of championship teams.”

Of course, Kerr’s humility and self-effacing nature belie the fact that he’s the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point shooting percentage (45.4%). Also unmentioned was the fact that his humor and insight often made him a must-listen on TNT broadcasts. His three-year stint as Phoenix Suns general manager preceded his run as coach of the Warriors, whom he led to five straight NBA Finals appearances and three titles.

Kerr is doing something right on his own. But like that 1997 Finals-clinching jumper, he’ll always credit Jordan with an assist.

“It was a dramatic impact on my life at the time but really the rest of my career, the rest of my life,” Kerr says. “So I kind of owe Michael.”

RELATED: How Michael Jordan, Bulls executed impromptu switch from No. 45 to 23