Burks, Butler Sign Petition To End Qualified Immunity

Bill Huber

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Current linebacker Oren Burks and former safety LeRoy Butler were among those with Green Bay Packers ties who signed a petition asking Congress to pass the Amash-Pressley Bill, which would end qualified immunity for police officers and other government officials.

More than 1,400 current and former professional athletes and coaches from across the National Football League, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball signed a letter from the Players Coalition.

“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 petition read. “There is a problem. The world witnessed it when Officer 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. The time for debate about the unchecked authority of the police is over; it is now time for change.”

According to Cornell Law School, “qualified immunity protects a government official from lawsuits alleging that the official violated a plaintiff's rights, only allowing suits where officials violated a ‘clearly established’ statutory or constitutional right. The Players Coalition says qualified immunity “has shielded some of the worst law enforcement officials in America.” As an example, the Players Coalition cited the 8th Circuit applied it to an officer who wrapped a woman in a bear hug, slammed her to the ground, and broke her collarbone as she walked away from him.

“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,” the petition reads. “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.”

In alphabetical order, the Packers ties include Burks, LeRoy Butler, Randall Cobb, James Crawford, Najeh Davenport, Na’il Diggs, Tony Fisher, Rashan Gary, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Ahman Green, Tori Gurley, Lawrence Guy, Johnny Holland, Christian Kirksey, Vonta Leach, Ben McAdoo, Ty Montgomery, Mike Pennel, Evan Smith (formerly Evan Dietrich-Smith), Jan Stenerud, Harry Sydney, JC Tretter, C.J. Wilson and Blaise Winter.

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