By Adalius Thomas, Former All-Pro NFL Linebacker and Players Coalition Advocate

In May, the nation witnessed police officers murder George Floyd. For months protesters rallied against decades of police brutality, while demanding elected officials consider a paradigm shift to hold law enforcement accountable. Now, we must turn that energy into voting, and while there is one critical election everyone knows about, we must look closely at what is farther down the ballot: Sheriff’s elections.

This year, there are dozens of county sheriff’s elections taking place across Georgia. Each of these elections offer Georgians an opportunity to have a say in how our communities are policed and how our jails are run. If we want massive change, it is time to show up at the ballot box and pay attention to these races. Sheriffs are the highest police authority in each county — and in many counties, they are the only police force. Sheriffs oversee policing practices, jail conditions, and Georgia’s immigration enforcement. They are responsible for 143 county jails across the state that hold 26,700 people — 68% of whom are being detained pretrial, meaning they’ve not been found guilty. Georgia sheriffs have struck eight cooperation agreements with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), agreements that allow ICE to grab pretrial detainees and conducted traffic stops that have led to 5,600 residents being removed from their communities and deported. …


By Chris Archer, MLB Pitcher and Players Coalition Advocate

The upcoming Presidential election is the most important election in my lifetime, and I am registered to vote in one of the most important battleground states: Florida. I’ve spent several months educating myself about what is on the ballot, preparing to vote in the top-of-the-ticket race and, just as importantly, in those down-ballot races that impact things like city budgets, who goes to prison, and how people are policed. I have also been educated on one other thing: it is harder to vote than it should be.

I live in Florida but am currently spending the next couple months in California. I therefore did what the state of Florida told me to do: I printed out an application for a mail-in ballot, filled it out, sent it back, and tracked the mail to make sure it arrived. It did, over a month ago. A week went by, and I didn’t receive a ballot. Then another week passed, then another, and then I still had no ballot the week before the election. …


By Anquan Boldin (Players Coalition Co-Founder), Aveion Cason (Former NFL Player), Marquis Daniels (Former NBA Player) and Stan Van Gundy (Former NBA Head Coach)

Over the past several months, people have taken to the streets to protest police violence and systemic injustice in both our criminal justice system and in our government. Those protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful, and are the result of generations of systemic racism and police brutality that is now regularly displayed on cell phone videos and body worn cameras. …


By Devin and Jason McCourty— New England Patriots and Players Coalition Members

Since March, the majority of America’s 56.4 million K-12 students have had to attend classes from home at some point due to COVID-19-caused school closures. Though some schools have re-opened, many more continue with full-time or part-time distance learning. For students without computers and wifi at home, participating in virtual classes and completing assignments is difficult in the best of cases, and sometimes completely impossible.

Congress’ $2 trillion CARES Act, passed back in March, added $13.2 billion in funding for K-12 schools. That was a start, but more funding is needed to support our education system in a variety of ways, including making sure all students have the resources needed to learn remotely. That is why it is so urgent for our politicians to come together to pass an additional stimulus package, which they unfortunately failed to do before Congress’ August recess. On October 1, the House passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, but the bill is not supported by the White House nor Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and it is not anticipated to pass in the Republican-led Senate. Tragically, every day our politicians are unable to come to a common ground is another day students are left without much-needed resources. …


By: Juan Archuleta, MMA; Sebastian Joseph-Day, Los Angeles Rams; Torry Holt, NFL Legends Community; Mark-Anthony Kaye, LAFC; Tyson Ross, MLB Player

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned Ezzard Ellis’s conviction because the lawyer charged with representing him was a “virulent racist who believed in the inferiority of racial minorities.” In another case tried by that same lawyer, he said that the “n — ” “got what he deserved” after a jury sentenced his client to death. For thirty years, this attorney represented clients, many Black, nearly all of whom he hated.

This lawyer may seem like an outlier in our justice system, but as every sentient and sane being now knows, the criminal legal system is rife with racism, including in the purportedly progressive state of California. A Black man here is eight times more likely to be incarcerated than a white man — in Mississippi, the disparity is “just” 3:1. A Latino man is twice as likely to be incarcerated as a white man in this state, also one of the largest discrepancies in the country. Black men receive longer sentences and are charged more harshly, and Latino men are not far behind. Racism appears in other less statistically demonstrable but no less pernicious ways at every turn in American courthouses. Prosecutors regularly strike Black jurors from the jury pool simply for being Black. In trial after trial, prosecutors use racially coded language, referring to Black defendants as “animals.” For the most part, we tolerate this racism as the cost of doing business in an unjust system. …


By Sebastian Joseph-Day — Starting defensive lineman for the Los Angeles Rams and member of the Players Coalition.

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Rams

First and foremost, my heart breaks for George Floyd and his family along with the other victims of police brutality and racism, including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. My thoughts and prayers go out to these families and the ones who aren’t told in the news.

This past week has been a tough one for the African-American community and for America as a whole. I’ve been thinking long and hard about the systemic oppression that has consumed this country. The biggest question that everyone has is “what is the solution?” …


Dear Members of the Georgia State Board of Elections:

In mid-December, we attended your meeting. Like many other Georgians, we were appalled by what happened in our 2018 election, are concerned about what is going to happen in 2020, and wanted to see, first hand, what our state was going to do to improve elections this year.

What we saw both encouraged and deeply disturbed us. It was inspiring to see so many passionate Georgians come out to address the board, all with the same message: we want to see free and fair elections that accurately reflect the will of all Georgians, without a thumb on the scale for either side. A group of non-partisan citizens also suggested some common-sense rule changes to that end, like designating a drop-off location for absentee and mail-in ballots at each polling place. …


By Benjamin Watson and Duron Harmon, Players Coalition Members & New England Patriots players

Traffic safety is not a game. We can save lives by tackling the problem of distracted driving. We can also improve lives and public safety by making sure policing on Massachusetts roads and highways is fair and evenhanded. Improving safety and equity should go hand in hand.

Multiple studies have shown racial disparities in traffic enforcement in the Commonwealth. …


Vote Yes on 1: Why We Must Treat and Not Jail Addiction

By Malcolm Jenkins and Austin Mack

Mass incarceration is the most urgent civil rights issue of our time. America’s stubborn commitment to the failed war on drugs, tough-on-crime policies, and lengthy prison sentences has resulted in the caging of a breathtaking number of black and brown people. These policies have not made us safer, and they have not addressed the underlying causes of crime, such as poverty, mental illness, a lack of access to health care, and relatedly, substance abuse. …


Give Georgians the Right to Vote

By Takeo Spikes, Adalius Thomas and Michael Jenkins

The right to vote is perhaps our most fundamental. It lets you have a say in health care, in education, and in other key facets of public life. It lets you pick your elected representatives, who will determine the course of America’s environmental future. It lets you pick your senators, who will approve the judges who sit on courts for decades. Deny people the right to vote, and democracy crumbles. Keep people away from the ballot box, and they must depend on others to protect their rights, and hope that they elect officials who will do the same. …

About

Players Coalition

We are an organization working with professional athletes, coaches and owners across leagues to improve social justice and racial equality in our country.

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