MLS’s Black Players for Change joins forces with NBPA to push through George Floyd Justice In Policing Act

On the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, MLS’s Black Players for Change (BPC) announced that it is joining forces with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to push for passage of the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act.

The legislation was passed by the House of Representatives back on March 4 by a vote of 220-212. It has yet to pass the Senate, where negotiations are ongoing. The NBPA has already taken to social media to raise awareness, including Instagram Live sessions with selected senators. On Tuesday’s anniversary, the BPC is joining in.

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“[The NBPA] communicating that to us, I felt like it was the perfect opportunity for us to collaborate because I just think it’s the most meaningful thing that we can do in memory of George Floyd,” said BPC executive director and Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow. “Pass some real reform that’s going to change [things].”

Among the bill’s components are the prohibiting of federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling, and mandates training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement. There is also a ban on chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants at the federal level. The bill mandates the use of dashboard cameras and body-cameras for federal officers and establishes a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or resign from moving to another jurisdiction. The policy of qualified immunity would be reformed so that individuals aren’t barred from recovering damages when police violate their constitutional rights.

“The biggest thing is qualified immunity,” said Morrow. “That’s something that we absolutely have to change. It’s something that’s a big part of the bill, but there are other parts of police reform in there.”

Morrow recalled how the collaboration between the NBPA and the BPC started last year, when both the NBA and MLS were resuming their seasons in Orlando inside their respective bubbles. Given the COVID-19 protocols that were in place, face-to-face meetings weren’t possible, but the two organizations put out a video calling for change and civic engagement. That set the stage for future collaboration, culminating in Tuesday’s efforts.

“We consult back and forth on things that they’re proposing to the league and help us drive forward things that we can propose to our league,” said Morrow. “So we just share a lot of ideas like that.”

On April 20, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter by a jury for his role in the murder of Floyd last May outside of a local convenience store. The death of Floyd, a Black man, and the video that showed Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes, became a catalyst for the sports world’s racial and social justice movement last summer and led to the formation of the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition and MLS’s Black Players for Change.

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