Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith makes a short catch against the Dallas Cowboys during their NFL game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. File Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 28 (UPI) -- The NAACP sent a letter Thursday to the National Players' Leagues, urging professional athletes in free agency to avoid Texas over new laws it says hurt marginalized communities.
The letter sent to every professional sports players' association in the country, said recent legislation Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed, ranging from abortion to voting rights to banning COVID-19 mask mandates, has hurt women, children and people of color.
"As we watch an incomprehensible assault on basic human rights unfold in Texas, we are simultaneously witnessing a threat to constitutional guarantees for women, children, and marginalized communities," the letter signed by NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson and NAACP Texas State Conference President Gary Bledsoe stated.
"Over the past few months, legislators in Texas have passed archaic policies, disguised as laws, that directly violate privacy rights and a woman's freedom to choose, restrict access to free and fair elections for Black and brown voters, and increase the risk of contracting coronavirus."
"Texas lawmakers have destroyed the state's moral compass by passing these laws," they added. "In return, we are asking that you seek employment with sports teams located in states that will protect, honor and serve your families with integrity. ... We are now pleading with you -- if you are a free agent and are considering employment in Texas, look elsewhere."
Amid people of color disproportionately being infected, hospitalized or dying from the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide, they emphasized the Texas ban on school mask mandates and vulnerability of children who cannot yet receive the vaccine.
"If you are Black, avoid Texas," their letter stated. "If you want to lower your chances of dying from coronavirus, avoid Texas."
An NAACP statement on the letter also referred to Abbott signing into law in May an anti-abortion bill enforced by members of the public as a move that "empowered vigilantes with the authority of law to restrict women's freedom to make choices about their bodies."
The Supreme Court declined to block the controversial law that bans abortions after six weeks into pregnancy last month in a 5-4 vote.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in her dissent the "Texas Legislature has deputized the State's citizens as bounty hunters, offering them cash prizes for civilly prosecuting their neighbors' medical procedures."
Also, last month, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff offered to help employees in Texas relocate due to the new abortion law.
Abbott told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" that more businesses were moving to the state due to its social policies.
"People vote with their feet and this is not slowing down businesses coming to the state of Texas at all," Abbott told CNBC, adding that people are leaving the liberal state of California in part because of its social policies.
The NAACP also referred in the letter to Abbott signing a bill into law last month that adds new restrictions to early voting and new identification requirements, which critics say will disproportionately impact voters of color.
Most recently, Abbott signed into law on Monday new congressional maps, which the NAACP's letter Thursday said would "dilute the voices of people of color."
"People of color have driven 95% of the Texas population growth," according to recently released data from the 2020 census, which the NAACP cited in the letter.
"Yet, new voting legislation and political maps put these communities at risk of not being able to participate in their democracy," the NAACP letter stated. "These laws are intended to suppress our constitutional right to vote."
The redistricting plans also prompted several Latino voters and voting civil rights groups to sue Texas, saying the new maps "unlawfully dilute the voting strength of Latinos."