*Doc Rivers’ emotional reaction to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, just three months after the gruesome police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, went viral and represented the frustrations of those who watched video of both incidents, and countless others showing unarmed black people being killed by white police officers.
On Tuesday, the one year anniversary of Floyd’s murder, Rivers – now coach of the Philadelphia 76ers – was asked to reflect.
“Pass The George Floyd policing act bill,” he declared Tuesday morning, saying it would be the best way to honor Floyd’s memory. Wearing a black t-shirt with white letters that read “CALL YOUR SENATORS,” Rivers continued, “It’s both a pro-police bill focusing on getting them much better training, and a pro-community bill, taking away qualified immunity.”
Rivers is part of the 15-member National Basketball Social Justice Coalition, which includes players and team owners, former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, National Basketball Player Association executive director Michele Roberts, and NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum. It was formed by the NBA and NBPA last year to lead the league’s collaborative effort in addressing racial and social inequalities by advocating for policy change at the local, state and national level.
The bill passed with a bipartisan vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s now sitting in the U.S. Senate, where the coalition hopes it gets similar bipartisan support. The hold-up is from Republicans who are against the qualified immunity portion of the bill, which shields police officers from most civil lawsuits.
“This is not political, the George Floyd Bill,” Rivers said. “This has nothing to do with if you’re Republican or Democrat. I am the son of a police officer. I am pro-police. This has nothing to do with being anti-police.”
“The George Floyd bill … one of the key points is about police training. So we can train our police officers better,” he continued. “I think every police officer would want that. So it’s a very positive thing. The fact that it takes six months to be a police officer and it takes about a year-and-a-half to get your barber’s license tells you that we need more training.”
“I’m a Democrat. I’ve called all of my Republican friends, and I have a lot of them, to tell them that this is a bill that should be passed,” Rivers said. “It should be bipartisan. It should have nothing to do with what side of the aisle you are on.”
Rivers felt uncomfortable calling Tuesday an “anniversary” of Floyd’s murder, since the word connotes celebration. Watch his comments below: