NFL Player Coalition Uses Social Justice Funds to End ‘Racial Disparity in Policing’

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The Associated Press
DANIEL LEBERFELD

The Players Coalition Charitable Foundation announced its “2019 plan to impact racial and social inequality” on Thursday. The foundation also announced its 2018-19 grants totaling $2 million to six national non-profit organizations.

Formed in 2017, the Players Coalition is a group of current and former NFL players whose mission statement involves “working with professional athletes, coaches and owners across leagues to improve social justice and racial equality in our country.”

According to Yahoo! Sports, “The grants the group awarded on Wednesday were for the first time funded in part by the NFL, just a part of the $89 million that team owners pledged to give to social justice causes last summer.”

One grant recipient is the “Center for Policing Equity.”

According to a press release from the Players Coalition, “The Center for Policing Equity is the largest research and action think tank on race and policing in the world. A science-based nonprofit organization, CPE uses advanced analytics to diagnose disparities in policing and provide a data-driven vaccine against them.”

Seattle Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin, a member of the coalition and son of a police officer, feels there is a “racial disparity in policing.”

“Our communities desire a better relationship with law enforcement,” Baldwin said. “Players Coalition will work with CPE to draw awareness to the sources of racial disparity in policing and advocate for reforms that can reduce them.”

Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, president of CPE, added, “The Center for Policing Equity uses data on police behavior to identify burdensome and disparate practices—and help police prevent them. By leveraging the insights of behavioral science, we arm law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to protect with tools to hold departments accountable to the values of their communities. The support from the Players Coalition will allow us to grow these efforts to do science in pursuit of justice.”

Another grantee is the “National Juvenile Defender Center.”

“Every day in America, children across the nation are denied their Constitutional right to legal counsel— they are arrested, prosecuted, and too often incarcerated without lawyers at their side,” according to the Players Coalition. “In 34 states, youth are charged for a ‘free lawyer’ and frequently waive the right to a lawyer without a lawyer even being present. The National Juvenile Defender Center is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides support to public defenders, appointed counsel, law school clinical programs, and non-profit law centers to ensure quality representation in urban, suburban, rural, and tribal areas.”

New England Patriots safety and coalition member Devin McCourty is a big believer in this organization.

“In the past year, we’ve been shocked to see how some of our youth, especially youth of color, are being thrown into our juvenile and criminal court systems,” McCourty said. “In working with the National Juvenile Defender Center, players will help educate and seek justice for kids.”

NJDC executive direction Mary Ann Scali believes partnering with the Players Coalition, “answers an urgent call to turn back the tide of criminalizing childhood and create waves of opportunity for all young people to have access to well-trained lawyers and receive fair and equal justice under the law.”

Scali added, “As the nation that incarcerates children at the highest rate in the world, and disproportionately youth of color, we have an obligation to fulfill the promises of the Constitution for all youth, most especially the rights to liberty and a lawyer.”

Also getting a donation from the Players Coalition is “The Justice Collaborative.”

“Nearly half of all people living in the United States have experienced incarceration in their family,” according to the Players Coalition. “113 million adults have had an immediate family member incarcerated, and right now, 6.5 million adults have an immediate family member currently incarcerated in jail or prison. The Justice Collaborative Engagement Project is an independent, nonpartisan research and advocacy organization devoted to holding public officials accountable for reforming the justice system and building healthier and safer communities.”

Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins feels the United States has “an incarceration problem” and feels the Justice Collaborative can help with this problem.

“Through working with The Justice Collaborative, players will use our voices to advocate for change on a state and local level to address the root issues behind incarceration,” said Jenkins, co-founder of the Players Coalition. “Incarceration doesn’t solve the problem, it exacerbates the poverty problem in America.”

The Justice Collaborative legal director Jessica Brand, is thankful for the help her organization is getting from the Players Coalition.

“The Players Coalition and their tremendous platform plays a critical role in placing pressure on the actors with the ability to reverse mass incarceration and restore human dignity, and we are privileged to work with them,” Brand said.

Other organization receiving grants from the Players Coalition are:

“Year Up” which enables young adults to move from minimum wage to meaningful careers in just one year.

“Communities In Schools” which works directly in the schools to address the impacts of poverty.

“Advancement Project National Office,” which is described by the coalition as “a next generation, multi-racial, policy, communications, and legal action organization committed to civil rights and racial justice.”

What is the Players Coalition looking to achieve overall with these six grants?

“Players Coalition is proud to partner with our 2019 grantee organizations, working on a national scale but focused in communities impacted the most,” said former NFL receiver Anquan Boldin, Players Coalition Co-Founder. “Our goal has always been to work hand in hand with groups that can provide evidence-based solutions to achieve change and make a lasting difference on impacted citizens.”

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