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Ravens alter practice plans for 'unifying session'

Team holds walk-through while also performing 'unifying session surrounding social justice reform’
John Harbaugh
Posted at 1:04 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 17:50:29-04

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens changed things up on Friday.

Instead of holding their scheduled practice, the Ravens had a typical in-season day - which included meetings and a walk-through. The organization released an update Friday morning stating that players and coaches had canceled practice 'to perform a team unifying session surrounding social justice reform’.

The move came in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Ravens practiced on Thursday but canceled all afternoon team meetings to speak as a team and decide how they wanted to move forward and come up with a plan for continued social justice work.

"We were in there for a long time. I don’t know, maybe two, two-and-a-half hours we were in there and it was really great," said Head Coach John Harbaugh. "We had some really interesting, deep, thoughtful, challenging things were said back and forth, but in love. They were spoken in love."

The team issued the following statement on Thursday evening:

With yet another example of racial discrimination with the shooting of Jacob Blake, and the unlawful abuse of peaceful protesters, we MUST unify as a society. It is imperative that all people – regardless of race, religion, creed or belief – come together to say, ‘Enough is enough!’

This is bigger than sports. Racism is embedded in the fabric of our nation’s foundation and is a blemish on our country’s history. If we are to change course and make our world a better place, we must face this problem head-on and act now to enact positive change.

It is time to accept accountability and acknowledge the ramifications of slavery and racial injustice.

Though we cannot right all the wrongs of our country’s history, we can:

  • Arrest and charge the police officers responsible for Breonna Taylor’s killing and the shooting of Jacob Blake.
  • Demand that Senator Mitch McConnell bring the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 to the Senate floor for vote.
    • End qualified immunity; require body cameras; ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants; hold police accountable in court; establish a framework to prohibit racial profiling at federal, state, and local levels
  • Support state- and federally-mandated CALEA Accreditation and national standards of care in policing.
  • Encourage everyone to engage in the political process by registering to vote on both the local and national level. (www.risetovote.turbovote.org [risetovote.turbovote.org])
  • Demand prison sentencing reform that is fair and equitable.
  • Encourage every citizen to act with respect and compliance when engaging with the police. If you feel there has been an abuse of power, we encourage you to contact your police department’s internal affairs unit. (For Baltimore City, dial 410-396-2300.)

We will use our platform to drive change now – not just for our generation, but for the generations that follow, for our sons and daughters and for their children.

"Not everybody is going to agree with every point in that statement. Not everybody on our team probably is going to agree with every aspect of it. But the ability to respect one another’s opinion and come up with something together that is workable that we could go forward with, I think is good example of how you work every problem. And I’m proud of the guys for doing that," said Harbaugh.

The official training camp portion of the Ravens' offseason is now over. They are scheduled to hold a scrimmage at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday. They have Sunday off and begin regular season practice mode in Owings Mills on Monday.

Follow Shawn Stepner on Twitter @StepnerWMAR and Facebook