Celtics Players Demand Mass. Gov. Beef Up Police Reform Bill

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A group of 17 Boston Celtics players have banded together to criticize Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker for the changes he wants to the state’s proposed police reform bill.

The players, including Kemba Walker, Tristan Thompson, and Jayson Tatum, signed their names to an op-ed published by the Boston Globe excoriating the gov. for his proposed changes to the bill, especially his opposition to banning the use of facial recognition technology.

“Governor Baker, regulating facial recognition technology is a racial justice issue,” the editorial insists, adding, “Baker’s rejection of this section of the police reform bill is deeply troubling because this technology supercharges racial profiling by police and has resulted in the wrongful arrests of innocent people.”

The op-ed claims that the ban on facial recognition tech must remain in the bill because it is fraught with racial bias.

“Studies confirm that face recognition surveillance technology is flawed and biased, with significantly higher error rates when used against people of color and women,” the article says. “This has real consequences. One false match can lead to an interrogation, arrest, and — especially for Black men — even a deadly police encounter,” it continues.

“We can’t allow biased technology to supercharge racist policing in the Commonwealth. The Legislature should return these important regulations to the governor and he should sign the bill,” the article concludes.

For his part, Gov. Baker has said he won’t sign the bill as presented to him by the legislature, and he wants the scanning technology to stay in the bill, saying that banning the tech “ignores the important role it can play in solving crime.”

Baker also opposes the plans to have civilian groups interfere in police training. ‘I do not accept the premise that civilians know best how to train police,” he said.

Still, Baker insisted that he does want some version of a reform package.

“There’s a lot in here that I’m concerned about, OK? But I want to sign a bill,” Baker said last week. “We desperately need an accountability system in Massachusetts. Too many times, especially in communities of color, people are treated badly by law enforcement and there is simply, too often, little or no consequences for any of the people who are involved.”

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