The Milwaukee Bucks, in partnership with the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign, today hosted a basketball game at Racine Correctional Institution in which members of the Bucks coaching staff suited up to play with incarcerated individuals, with Bucks players serving as honorary coaches. The game was attended by families of the incarcerated individuals, as well as other residents of the institution.
Prior to the game, players, coaches and executives of the Bucks and members of the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign, who are themselves formerly incarcerated, sat down for an hour-long facilitated conversation with currently incarcerated individuals.
Today’s event was organized by the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign in partnership with One Community, working with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and the Bucks. The Campaign organized the Play for Justice initiative, which brings together NBA teams and incarcerated individuals at correctional facilities across the country, to advance the goals of uplifting narratives of hope and redemption to break down stigmas associated with individuals – disproportionately people of color and the poor – who are impacted by the criminal justice system.
Bucks players who attended the event included Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Sterling Brown, Pat Connaughton, George Hill, Kyle Korver and D.J. Wilson. Bucks and Fiserv Forum President Peter Feigin, Bucks General Manager Jon Horst, Bucks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer, Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry, Bucks Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility Arvind Gopalratnam, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes also attended the event.
“Our organization strongly believes in engaging in community-building conversations to shed light on tough subjects such as criminal justice reform,” said Bucks and Fiserv Forum President Peter Feigin. “We are proud to participate in the Play for Justiceinitiative to give incarcerated individuals the platform to communicate their experiences, as well as to create hope for a positive future.”
"During my incarceration, approaches that treated me with dignity and respect and enhanced my education and sense of self-worth were my saving grace," said Xavier McElrath-Bey, a REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign surrogate and Senior Advisor for the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth. "I'm honored to be able to share my story and be in community with the Bucks and residents at Racine. Efforts like Play for Justice are part of the Campaign's effort to convince our society that incarcerated people are worthy of hope, redemption, and second chances."
On Dec. 12 at Folsom State Prison in California, the Sacramento Kings tipped off the Play for Justice series of basketball games, which includes additional games and activations with participating NBA and WNBA teams, set to be announced later this month and the beginning of 2020. In addition to the Play for Justice events in Milwaukee and Sacramento, the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign has worked with participating NBA and WNBA teams and players to organize events, including film screenings and community conversations, as part of the broader effort. The Bucks will host four screenings of the movie JUST MERCY throughout the month of January for local nonprofits, followed by audience Q&A conversations with community leaders to discuss the impact of the movie.
To further the discussion about social justice, the Bucks will also host the second installment of “Team Up for Change” in partnership with the Sacramento Kings on February 10, 2020 at Fiserv Forum. The innovative partnership aims to unite, inspire and activate community leaders, law enforcement and youth advocates from Milwaukee and Sacramento by highlighting local and national perspectives from innovators and trusted experts who are advocates for social justice and equality. That evening, the Bucks will host the Kings.
The REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign also organized a concert with Common for incarcerated individuals at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, California on Dec. 6. Last month, the Campaign--working with world-renowned French artist JR as well as the Anti-Recidivism Coalition--captured and pasted portraits of 48 formerly and currently incarcerated individuals at the California Correctional Institution in Tehachapi, California to create a large-scale mural in the facility’s yard.
Through art, storytelling, and values-based conversations focused on redemption, mercy, and the possibility of a second chance, the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign, in partnership with One Community, will aim to humanize incarcerated individuals in the media and public opinion, in order to create public demand for a fair legal system, dignity for system impacted communities, and an end to extreme sentences. Campaign partners include: 8th Amendment Project, Alliance for Safety and Justice, Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth, Color Of Change, Healing Dialogue and Action, Prison Fellowship, The Justice Collaborative, The Innocence Project, The Sentencing Project, The Vera Institute for Justice, and Witness to Innocence.
About the REPRESENT JUSTICE Campaign
Through stories of hope and redemption, REPRESENT JUSTICE will engage audiences and spark collective action that creates public demand for a fair legal system, dignity for system impacted communities, and an end to extreme sentences. The Campaign, launched in conjunction with the release of the feature film JUST MERCY (2019), will work with a coalition of partners, artists, athletes and more to advance reform and build capacity for other organizations in the space.
Follow the conversation: www.representjustice.org or @werepjustice on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. When sharing the Campaign, please consider using the hashtag #RepresentJustice.