The Players Coalition and dozens of professional athletes sent a letter Friday to Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting an immediate federal investigation into the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.
The letter was also sent to Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division. Among the signees were Tom Brady, Steve Kerr and Players Coalition co-founders Anquan Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins.
The coalition was formed in 2017 to raise awareness about police and community relations, criminal justice reform and education and economic advancement. It developed out of the dispute between NFL team owners and players who were kneeling during the national anthem to bring a focus to social injustice, a movement that was spurred by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The letter requested that the FBI and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division lead the investigation into the shooting of Aubrey, a black man, on Feb. 23. Two white men, Travis and Greg McMichael, were charged this week with murder and aggravated assault after a video of the shooting was leaked.
National outrage over the case swelled this week after cellphone video surfaced that appeared to show the shooting.
LeBron James reacted with a couple of tweets Wednesday, saying: “We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes! Can’t even go for a damn jog man!” Fellow NBA star Stephen Curry wrote on Instagram: “AHMAUD ARBERY. Sickening what’s STILL happening out here. Don’t watch the video. Respect this man and his family. Remember the name.””
A similar request for a federal investigation was made by the lawyer for Arbery’s family.
“The FBI has said it’s assisting and as is standard protocol we look forward to working with them should information come to light of a potential federal violation,” Justice Department spokesman Matt Lloyd said Wednesday.
The coalition’s letter cites alleged delays by Georgia prosecutors and asks for a “robust federally led investigation … the only way to restore community trust that Mr. Arbery’s death will be fully investigated.”
It includes 64 signatures, including Pro Football Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams and the NFL’s director of football operations, Troy Vincent.