Proving that some things are bigger than football, a number of players and staff from the Kansas City Chiefs collectively signed a bill to end qualified immunity on Wednesday.
Among the past and present Chiefs signees include Eric Bieniemy, Sam Madison, Mike Kafka, Dave Merritt, Mike Pennel, Derrick Nnadi, Alex Okafor, Antonio Hamilton, Armani Watts, Damien Wilson, Alex Smith, Tony Gonzalez, Jan Stenerud, Pat Surtain, Xavier Williams, Jordan Lucas, Keith Reaser and plenty more.
In total, 1,400 members of the NFL co-signed this proposal, which looks to hold police accountable for any violent offenses they may commit in the future. Federal law authorizes lawsuits for monetary damages against officials (like police officers) who commit constitutional violations, including the use of excessive force. But qualified immunity allows these officials to avoid facing trial unless their conduct violated “clearly established law” — a standard that “protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.”
A recent piece of legislation called the Ending Qualified Immunity Act was introduced by Representatives Justin Amash (L-MI) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) on Thursday. This letter is in support of Congressional leaders voting to pass that bill. Qualified immunity has become a hot topic as of late due to the Memorial Day killing of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of Derek Chauvin and three other members of the Minneapolis Police Department.
Under these measures, players and coaches alike hope that moving forward, government officials will do more to ensure the safeties of United States citizens won’t be at risk should they encounter violent members of law enforcement.
Check out a portion of the letter below:
“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. 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.“
This is a bold move by the team, who are serious about sending a message that moving forward, the NFL and fans should absolutely condemn police brutality and in fact, do everything they can to protect the players who use their platform for racial equality initiatives.