Following the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, more than 1,400 current and professional athletes, coaches and front office personnel are asking for change.
In a letter to Congress, sports figures across the NFL, MLB and NBA urged Congress to support a bill to end qualified immunity, which makes it challenging for police officers to be sued for brutality.
Among the signatures gathered by The Players Coalition include many players with Pacific Northwest ties. The list includes former Seahawks Kam Chancellor and Doug Baldwin, former Beavers Victor Bolden, Steven Nelson and Isaac Seumalo, former Ducks Deforest Buckner, Terrance Mitchell, Arik Armstead, Kenjon Barner, and Jonathan Stewart, and former WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew.
Miami Heat coach Erik Spolestra, who attended Jesuit High School and the University of Portland, also added his signature to the letter calling for the end of qualified immunity.
Other prominent signatures include Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Carson Wentz, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich and Zach Ertz.
Today, on behalf of 1100+ athletes & coaches and 300+ front office personnel across the @NFL @NBA & @MLB, we urge Congress to pass the Ending Qualified Immunity Act, introduced by @justinamash & @AyannaPressley— PlayersCoalition (@playercoalition) June 10, 2020
We demand accountability for police brutality. It's time for change. pic.twitter.com/ro7eRmvSK6
“It is time for Congress to eliminate qualified immunity, and it can do so by passing the Amash-Pressley bill," The Players Coalition said. “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.”
The bill was introduced on June 4 by U.S. Representatives Justin Amash (L-Michigan) and Ayanna Presley (D-Massachusetts), in the wake of the recent killings of Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers.
Essentially, the proposed legislation would remove qualified immunity from police officers that brutalize or otherwise violate the civil rights of citizens. Qualified immunity shields officers from liability for discretionary actions performed in the line of duty, unless the actions violate a “clearly established” ruling from a prior case that prohibits such behavior.
The bill would “help restore the public trust in government and law enforcement by ending qualified immunity for public officials, including police officers. This Act would ensure that whenever a citizen’s constitutional rights are violated, he or she will have recourse in a court of law.”
To read the Players Coalition's full letter to Congress, click here.