They, along with 41 other athletes, signed a letter Monday demanding state lawmakers “ensure justice is served for the officers that shot Jacob Blake.” The letter was sent through Athletes for Impact, an organization of athletes committed to “equity and social change.”
The full letter reads:
Dear Governor Evers, Senator Vos and Leader Fitzgerald:
As Jacob Blake fights for his life after Kenosha police shot him in the back seven times in front of his children, Wisconsin residents and grassroots organizations from across the country are calling on state leaders to act. We have joined together with Wisconsin activists to demand state lawmakers ensure justice is served for the officers that shot Jacob Blake, and that leaders step up to keep our neighborhoods safe.
We are calling on leaders at the local and state level to significantly pass police reform legislation and fund community-led approaches to address violence statewide to ensure that we are protecting marginalized communities and build healthier neighborhoods. Rather than investing in the crime control approach that has failed to reduce violence in communities across the state and continues to incite police violence and brutality, we strongly urge the Wisconsin legislature to take immediate action to stop the violence and #InvestInUs.
Community members and leaders across Wisconsin, and across the country, are watching as lawmakers are called to the state capital for a special session to vote on a package of public safety bills. We demand lawmakers prioritize banning chokeholds and no knock entrance while increasing the proposed funding of community violence intervention and prevention programs that save lives, as opposed to further funding of dysfunctional police departments that are failing to reduce violence. Now is the time for lawmakers to take a stand for Black communities.
Homicides in Milwaukee have reached their highest point in the last 30 years, and with the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the root causes of violence are exacerbated in communities historically impacted by gun violence. To date, 83% of the homicide victims in Milwaukee are Black or Brown, and no action has been taken by leaders beyond increased police budgets. Milwaukee has already allocated 47% of its budget to policing, but less than one percent to community-led violence prevention programs that have proven successful in Milwaukee and across the country.
Community-led violence prevention programs are needed now more than ever. As athletes from all sports, we demand immediate action in light of the intensified crises of unemployment, poor educational opportunity, housing insecurity, and other root factors that fuel the ongoing violence. Making robust investments in violence intervention programs is an important step in mitigating gun violence during the coronavirus pandemic, especially as gun sales continue to rise and emergency health services remain strained.
To strengthen the state’s violence prevention in communities most at-risk, we request that leadership push forward legislation to include the following:
• Immediately pass legislation that bans chokeholds, no knock warrants or other excessive use of force policies to hold police officers accountable for acts of violence.
• $25 million for a Community-Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Fund. This fund would allow local communities in areas hit hardest by violence to strengthen and replicate effective models for lifesaving violence intervention initiatives. Funds should be awarded in a manner consistent with the purposes of implementing initiatives, through strategies such as hospital-based violence intervention, evidence-based intervention programs and programs that focus on addressing individuals most at-risk of violence.
• The state of Wisconsin commissions a comprehensive plan to end violence that takes a public health approach to addressing the root causes, prioritizing protection of marginalized groups, adequately supporting survivors of violence in all its forms, and adopting sustainable solutions to reduce violence across the state.
It is critical that lawmakers act now. Our communities are being disproportionally hurt by a global pandemic, an economic shock that’s left many without work, and a legacy of gun and police violence that’s killing us. We no longer have the luxury of waiting as bullets fly and families fight to survive pandemics of violence, racism and coronavirus.
The first step Wisconsin must take is to invest programs that prevent homicides and address all forms of violence impacting marginalized groups.
The signatures of 44 athletes sit below that statement. In addition to McCourty, Rapinoe and Stewart, Doug Baldwin, Kyle Korver and Diana Taurasi are among the prominent names to sign the letter.
Wisconsin legislature did not discuss law enforcement reform Monday
Athletes for Impact isn’t the only group pushing Wisconsin to pass law enforcement reform. The Milwaukee Bucks’ strike was done to push that legislation forward. The Wisconsin State Legislature did not pass — or even discuss — that issue Monday.
Gavel in, go home.— Dan Shafer (@DanRShafer) August 31, 2020
The Wisconsin State Legislature refuses to pass (or even debate!) law enforcement reform legislation that became the focus of the Bucks’ historic protest last week.
The number of days since Republicans passed a bill will grow to 139 tomorrow. https://t.co/j1DEBqlNnQ
Further inaction from the Wisconsin State Legislature could prompt more strikes or protests from the Bucks or other professional sports teams across Wisconsin.
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