By Joe Pantorno
Over 1,400 athletes, coaches, and general managers across Major League Baseball, the NBA, and NFL signed a letter to Congress under the Players Coalition urging them to pass the Ending Qualified Immunity Act.
The proposed Act of Congress — introduced by Representatives Justin Amash and Ayanna Pressley — would disband qualified immunity, which shields police officers and government officials from legal actions taken by victims and families whose civil rights were violated unless the action clearly violates a constitutional right based on a prior identical case.
For example, as NFL.com first noted, last year the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Coffee County (GA) Deputy Sheriff Michael Vickers would not have to face a $2 million lawsuit for shooting and killing a 10-year-old boy when he was aiming for a dog because “a materially similar case” could not be found.
“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 read. “There is a problem.”
The letter signed by notable athletes such as Odell Beckham Jr., Tom Brady, and Giancarlo Stanton cited the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and the ensuing response by police around the country as protests marched from coast-to-coast.
A full list of the names can be found here.
“The world is watching now, as officers deploy enormous force on peaceful protesters like those who were standing outside of the White House last week,” it read, alluding to demonstrators who were forcibly removed by police to allow President Donald Trump to walk to St. John’s Church for a photo-op. “The time for debate about the unchecked authority of the police is over; it is now time for change.”