MLB

Players Coalition gets over 1,400 signatures to support bill seeking end of qualified immunity for cops

Over 1,400 current and former athletes, coaches, and front office personnel from Major League Baseball, NBA, and NFL have worked with the Players Coalition to throw their collective support behind a new letter to the United States Congress. The letter is in support of a bill that will end qualified immunity for police officers. It would ultimately make the process of suing cops for brutality less difficult, according to ESPN

Sports figures who have signed the bill include:

The bill was introduced last Thursday by U.S. Reps. Justin Amash (Michigan) and Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts). It specifically would give Americans a better opportunity to hold police officers accountable when citizens allege that their constitutional rights have been violated.

The bill comes following the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25.

“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 Players Coalition wrote in the letter. “There is a problem. The world witnessed it when Officer [Derek] 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.

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“The time for debate about the unchecked authority of the police is over; it is now time for change.”

Last month, the Players Coalition sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting a federal investigation into the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.

Here’s more details on qualified immunity, from ESPN’s Michael Rothstein:

“Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871 gives individuals the right to sue state and municipal government officials, including police officers, if their rights were violated. That section of the act, the bill states, ‘never included a defense or immunity for government officials who act in good faith when violating rights, nor has it ever had a defense or immunity based on whether the right was ‘clearly established’ at the time of the violation.’ From 1871 until the 1960s, the notion of qualified immunity was not granted for the violation of rights.”

The bill from Amash and Pressley was introduced in the hopes that qualified immunity can come to an end.

“It is time for Congress to eliminate qualified immunity and it can do so by passing the Amash-Pressley Bill,” the letter also says. “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.”

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