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1,400 athletes sign letter demanding Congress end qualified immunity for law enforcement


More than 1,400 current and former athletes, coaches and executives from major professional sports leagues — including several major league baseball players — have signed a letter to members of Congress in support of a bill that would eliminate qualified immunity for government officials, including law enforcement.

The letter was released by the Players Coalition, which is a group founded by NFL players in 2017 to address social justice and racial inequality. Among its signatories are ballplayers Giancarlo Stanton, Alex Bregman, CC Sabathia, Andrew McCutchen, Chris Archer, Jack Flaherty, Tim Anderson, Dexter Fowler, Delino DeShields Jr., Matt Kemp, Dee Gordon, J.P. Crawford, Cameron Maybin, Niko Goodrum, and Tony Gwynn Jr.

Qualified immunity is a judge-created legal doctrine that insulates public officials, most notably law enforcement, from lawsuits. The idea behind the doctrine was to protect police from frivolous lawsuits in response to cases which involve split-second judgments that are made in tense and dangerous situations. In practice, however, the doctrine has barred the vast majority of police brutality suits on questionable grounds, hollowing out 150-year-old civil rights legislation which gave individuals the right to sue state and municipal government officials if their rights were violated. Qualified immunity is under renewed scrutiny in the wake of the Breonna Taylor and George Floyd killings by police officers.

From the Players’ Coalition letter:

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. There is a problem. The world witnessed it when Officer [Derek] 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.

The letter supports a bill introduced by U.S. Representatives Justin Amash (L-Michigan) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts) last week which seeks to eliminate the doctrine of qualified immunity.

Nationals’ Strasburg ejected for arguing from the stands

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — A pitcher getting ejected for arguing balls and strikes – on his day off? And, from the stands?

Nationals star Stephen Strasburg earned one of baseball’s most unique ejections – probably ever – in the third inning of Washington’s game against the New York Mets on Thursday.

Strasburg was sitting in Section 121 at Citi Field in this socially distant season because he’s scheduled to start Friday against Baltimore Orioles. He was apparently unhappy with the strike zone of plate umpire Carlos Torres after Austin Voth‘s 2-2 pitch to Pete Alonso on the outside corner was ruled a ball.

Moments later, Torres ejected last year’s World Series MVP, though it took a few seconds to realize who had been tossed.

Someone was heard yelling: “You’re (expletive) brutal” shortly before television cameras captured Strasburg doffing his cap as he walked up the staircase on his way out of the park.

“Sorry, folks – sorry, FCC,” Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen said on SNY.

The usually stoic Strasburg appeared to be grinning underneath his blue mask as he made his exit.