June 8, 2018

WASHINGTON — In comments to media today, President Trump invited NFL players who would protest during the national anthem to suggest individuals to be considered for a presidential pardon.

Jeff Robinson, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, had the following response:

“President Trump has spent much of his first 18 months in office degrading NFL players who protest police brutality and racial injustice. Today, he has tried once again to change the narrative about the work of those and other activists, betraying a fundamental misunderstanding of the cause behind these protests — and using racist dog whistles to do it.

“While we support a fair and concerted effort to address unfair sentences in the federal system, pardons alone won’t fix our deeply broken criminal justice system. We need real reforms that will address systemic racism and implicit bias in policing that too often results in violence and death. We need a bail system that doesn’t criminalize poverty. We need sentencing reform so that thousands of Black and brown people aren’t ensnared in jails and prisons. Should the president meet with athletes, we hope he will propose serious policy changes that get us closer to those goals.”

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