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‘We want to be difference makers’: Maryland football players commit to fighting racial inequality, injustice

In a statement released by the team Tuesday, University of Maryland football players committed to being "leaders in creating change” amid nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd and police brutality.

Floyd, a black man, died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes while arresting him. The incident was recorded on video and shared widely on social media, sparking protests throughout the country, including in Baltimore.

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Prosecutors charged former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with second-degree murder Wednesday, and for the first time leveled charges against three other fired officers. The unintentional second-degree murder count carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.

The Terps players, who signed the statement with their jersey numbers, committed to exercising their right to vote and starting a community service program “where we take buses and vans into the underserved areas of our community to help educate and promote voter registration." The players also said that they would help voters get to the polls on election days.

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“We recognize that voting is one way to invoke real change in our country and that’s why this will be a top priority for our team,” the statement reads.

The players also vowed to “use our platform as Division I athletes, especially because of our proximity to Washington DC, to discuss racial inequality, injustice and begin to promote equality.”

The statement comes after coach Mike Locksley and several Maryland players shared their thoughts on social media about Floyd’s death and racial inequality.

The full statement reads:

“As a football family, we are hurting. Our hearts break over the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray and countless others. Many of our teammates are inconsolable as yet another Black life has been taken at the hands of law enforcement and injustice.

"We also recognize that our football family consists of police officers, those on campus that have always had our backs and been our biggest fans, as well as some of our parents that have dedicated their lives to protecting and serving this nation.

"We want to be DIFFERENCE MAKERS so that being Black in America is something people are prideful of and not fearful of. We recognize that we need to use our platform as Division I athletes, especially because of our proximity to Washington DC, to discuss racial inequality, injustice and begin to promote equality.

"We want to be more than this statement. We demand of ourselves to be LEADERS IN CREATING CHANGE. We want to spread love, unity, peace, respect and togetherness in our communities.

"Our plan includes us exercising our right to vote, which unfortunately doesn’t happen enough in our age demographic. But we want to do more. We will start a community service program where we take buses and vans into the underserved areas of our community to help educate and promote voter registration. On election days, we will provide assistance to voters that typically have trouble getting to the polls. We recognize that voting is one way to invoke real change in our country and that’s why this will be a top priority for our team.

"We also want to continue to educate ourselves so that we can bring light to those that lack knowledge. Our goal is to never let the conversation about race in America die down and to find a way to peacefully make significant change.

“Our locker room is a melting pot of different races, upbringings and points of view. But we are united in this. We are built as ONE TEAM. We will be part of creating change. We are Made for More.”

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