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Why Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook and other NBA stars fought to save Julius Jones

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The Julius Jones Coalition, a group established in 2019 composed of family, friends and community organizers pursuing Jones’ innocence, has gathered support in recent months as NBA stars Blake Griffin, Russell Westbrook, Trae Young and Buddy Hield and NFL quarterback Baker Mayfield authored and sent letters to the governor’s office. As protests against police brutality across the United States persist, Oklahoma City’s Black Lives Matter chapter has included a commutation for Jones in a list of demands presented to Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt.

For those fighting for Jones’ freedom, the goal has remained straightforward: draw as much attention to his case as possible, show the Pardon and Parole Board there’s a reason to consider his clemency and get it to the governor for approval. The alleged remarks surfaced in 2017, when another juror, Victoria Armstrong, sent a Facebook message to Jones’ legal team claiming juror Jerry Brown said, before evidence was presented, that the trial was a “Waste of time” and they should “Just take the n— out and shoot him behind the jail.”

“I was tried by a jury that included at least one racist,” Jones said in his clemency report.

At the time, police didn’t test the red bandana for DNA. Jones’ post-conviction team pushed for it to be tested in 2018, but the results didn’t help its case: A forensics lab in Virginia found Jones’ DNA on the bandana.

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