PITTSBURGH — Steven Nelson is one of 1,400 current or former NFL, NBA or MLB players and coaches who signed onto a letter in support of the Amash-Pressley Ending Qualified Immunity Act as part of the inter-league Players Coalition.
He is also the most prominent – if not only – current Steeler to do so.
The legislation, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last Thursday, would undo the relatively recent legal doctrine known as qualified immunity that largely protects police officers from legal punishment for use of excessive force. Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, appointed by former president Barack Obama, and Clarence Thomas, appointed by former president George H.W. Bush, have called for a review of the doctrine.
- Drew Brees and Carson Wentz also came out against the doctrine, via the letter
A 2009 Supreme ruling has allowed lower courts to dismiss police brutality lawsuits due to the lack of specific precedent that qualified immunity requires. Thomas said the doctrine itself was created without its own historical basis.
The Amash-Pressley End Qualified Immunity Act was introduced by Rep. Justin Amash, a Libertarian and former Republican from Michigan and co-sponsored by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). All of the bill’s 39 co-sponsors are Democrats. It is currently sitting in the judiciary committee.
- Why Steven Nelson thinks George Floyd protests might break from 400-plus years of history
Nelson, who has voiced his support for protesters taking to the streets in the wake of George Floyd’s death underneath Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s neck, is joined by former Steelers James Farrior, Roosevelt Nix, Will Johnson and Chris Hubbard in signing the letter.
The letter, available in full, opens with the following:
“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 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.”
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