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."
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."