Former NHL players Anson Carter and J.T. Brown are among a group of professional athletes, coaches and entertainers advocating for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a policing overhaul bill named after a Black man who died in Minneapolis police custody last May.
Carter and Brown are supporters of the Alliance for Criminal Justice Reform, a coalition of citizen-activists working toward the enactment of police reform legislation in this year.
“You don’t have to be a lobbyist to get involved,” Carter said. “I’m a television guy, I was a hockey guy, but I also live in these communities where these issues are real. I’m trying to educate myself on what the issues are … so I can really take an active participation role.”
Carter and Brown were signees to the Alliance’s “Call to Action” in March that urged allies to join them in virtually lobbying members of the U.S. Senate on May 12 to pass the bill.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday urged the Senate to pass bill after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Floyd Justice in Policing Act in March on a 220-212 vote.
“George Floyd was murdered almost a year ago,” Biden said at the White House. “It shouldn’t take a whole year to get this done.”
Kim Davis, NHL senior executive vice president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs, praised Carter and Brown for their participation with the alliance.
“When NHL players use their voice and their platform to advocate for racial justice, they can have an incredible impact — one that can increase momentum for actionable change while also inspiring our current and potential fans,” Davis said. “Anson and J.T. have been courageous leaders for social justice, so it is fitting to see them join this powerful cross-industry coalition that aims to improve our criminal justice system. Their involvement is an example of how everyone in the hockey community — from players to fans to league executives — can find ways to support racial equality efforts.”
Other signees include National Basketball Association players Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving and Andre Iguodala; NBA coaches Doc Rivers, Gregg Popovich; Nick Nurse and Brad Stevens; and WNBA players Nneka Ogumike, Kia Stokes and Sue Bird.
The list of entertainers includes Ariana Grande, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Nas, Mariah Carey, Kirk Franklin and Dan + Shay.
The expansive bill would, among other things, ban police from using chokeholds, end racial and religious profiling, create a national database to track police misconduct and prohibit the use of certain no-knock warrants.
Carter, a hockey analyst for NBC sports, scored 421 points (202 goals, 219 assists) in 674 games for the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes between 1996-07.
Brown scored 72 points in 365 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild. The right wing played this season in Sweden for IF Bjorkloven.
Carter said he’s proud to represent hockey among the alliance’s supporters.
“I look at these committees, and rarely have I seen hockey players included in these groups,” said Carter, who co-chairs the NHL’s Player Inclusion Committee. “I think that leaves people thinking that people in the hockey community don’t care, and that’s not true.”
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association in September announced a series of initiatives aimed at combating racism and to make the sport more welcoming and inclusive.
The efforts include the creation of an Executive Inclusion Council, co-chaired by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Buffalo Sabres owner Kim Pegula along with the Player Inclusion Committee co-chaired by Carter and New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, and Fan Inclusion and Youth Hockey Inclusion committees. Brown is also a member of the Fan Inclusion Committee.
Each committee will develop action-oriented solutions to positively impact access, opportunity and experiences that underrepresented groups have in the game.