Redskins running back Adrian Peterson is one of the over 1,400 current and former players that signed a letter headed by the Players Coalition asking the United States Congress to pass a bill that would end qualified immunity.
Introduced by U.S. Representatives Justin Amash (L-Michigan) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts) on June 4, the bill is known as the End Qualified Immunity Act or Amash-Pressley Act. Proposed on June 4, the act is a response to the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others due to police brutality.
Qualified Immunity, which was first introduced during a 1967 Supreme Court case and later "clearly established" in 1982, allows for the protection of police officers and other public officials as it becomes difficult to involve them in civil suits. The passing of the bill would allow those who have suffered from police brutality to hold officers and other officials accountable for their actions.
The Players Coalition, which was founded by Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin, collected over 1,400 signatures from current and former NFL, NBA and MLB players and coaches to voice their support for the passing of the bill.
"We are more than 1,400 current and former professional athletes and coaches from across the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball in America. 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," the letter said.
"There is a problem. 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."
In addition to Peterson, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ed Reed, Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz and numerous other big-name sports figures signed the letter. Former Redskins running back Chris Thompson was also involved.
"It is time for Congress to eliminate qualified immunity, and it can do so by passing the Amash-Pressley bill. 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," the letter said. "And officers must know that if they act in such a manner, there will be repercussions."
The support for the bill is the latest in a long line of actions taken by professional athletes as civil unrest and protests continue across the country. Peterson has already been vocal on the topic at hand, saying that he will "without a doubt" take a knee to peacefully protest during the 2020 season. Head coach Ron Rivera has since stated that he will support Peterson and others in their decision.
The NFL itself has begun to change its stance around protests, as commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement supporting the players following a powerful video that featured some of the sports' biggest names.