Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is urging the state of Oklahoma to commute the sentence of Julius Jones, a death row inmate who was convicted of first-degree murder in 2002.
Jones has always maintained his innocence, and his case has drawn renewed attention from celebrities and athletes, particularly over revelations that racial slurs were used both by a police officer involved in his case and a juror during his trial.
“Beyond the obvious shortcomings of the trial, another issue that continues to weigh on me is the obvious racial bias that permeated Julius’ arrest, prosecution, and conviction,” Mayfield wrote. “Every American is supposed to be guaranteed a fair and impartial trial. But when your arresting officer calls you the “n-word,” when a juror calls you the “n-word” and when all of this unfolds in the context of decades of death penalty convictions slanted against black men, it is impossible to conclude that Julius received fair and impartial treatment. The Oklahomans I met are not racist; they are not mean-spirited, and they do not wish to participate in injustice in this day and age. That is why I am confident that when Oklahomans become aware of the facts surrounding Julius Jones and his conviction, they will demand that his sentence be commuted.”
Mayfield, who won the Heisman Trophy while playing for Oklahoma, has lent his support to protests after the death of George Floyd and said he plans to kneel during the national anthem this season and doesn’t care if that costs him fans. Social justice causes are important to Mayfield, and he’s using his platform for them.