The Players Coalition, an independent organization working with athletes, coaches, and owners across leagues to improve social justice and racial equality in America, has collected signatures from more than 1400 current and former personnel from Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Football League. The petition is to support the end of qualified immunity for police officers. Included in that number were dozens of Buffalo Bills.
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
Current members of the Buffalo Bills that signed include Vernon Butler, Dion Dawkins, E.J. Gaines, Josh Norman, Ty Nsekhe, and Darryl Williams. Former Bills on the list are Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, Steve Christie, Steve Tasker, Frank Reich, Joe Cribbs, Nate Clements, Robert Woods, Arthur Moats, Jehuu Caulcrick, Russell Copeland, John Fina, Drayton Florence, Jordan Gay, Marquise Goodwin, Jabari Greer, Donald Jones, Mark Maddox, Ryan Neufeld, Jeff Nixon, Lafayette Pitts, Peerless Price, Takeo Spikes, Wyatt Teller, Will Wolford, and Chidi Ahanotu. Former Bills general manager Bill Polian, offensive coordinator/interim head coach Anthony Lynn, head coach Doug Marrone, and defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell all added their names, as well.
(If we missed some names, drop them in the comments. The list is long and they’re continuing to add names.)
“It is time for Congress to eliminate qualified immunity and it can do so by passing the Amash-Pressley Bill,” the letter to Congress reads. “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.”
Qualified Immunity is one of the most frequently cited needs by police reformers. It shields government officials from being held personally liable for actions performed within their official capacity as long as it doesn’t violate “clearly established” law. In short, police officers can’t be sued for injuries or death simply by acting as a police officer, even if it was reckless or dangerous, unless there is an identical previous case.
Police officers contend this will add layers of doubt to split-second decisions, lower response time, and limit the number of people who enter and stay in the profession.
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