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Activists Urge Pistons Owner Ousting Over Prison Phones Investment

A group of activists is pressuring the NBA to oust Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores over his private equity firm’s investment in a prison telephone company.

Amid a growing national referendum on criminal justice reform, Gores stepped down from the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art two months ago over his connection, and now the Los Angeles billionaire finds himself under fire again. The activists say he should step down unless he divests, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Worth Rises, a New York nonprofit, presented a letter of demands on December 10 to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s board of governors. They contend Gores has failed to live up to pledges to lower the rates charged by Securus Technologies.

The non-profit accuses the suburban Dallas telecom company of “price-gouging families — that are disproportionately Black, brown, and low-income — as they struggle to keep in touch with their incarcerated loved ones.”

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“Put simply, he is a prison profiteer who has no place on the board of one of our nation’s favorite cultural institutions: the NBA,” the letter reads. “The NBA cannot allow Mr. Gores to whitewash his active exploitation of marginalized communities by simply asserting that Black Lives Matter.”

Mark Barnhill, a partner at Gores’ firm Platinum Equity and an alternate on the NBA’s board of governors, has since responded, saying in an email statement the company is “collaborating with a broad coalition of groups and individuals on the sweeping transformation of Securus Technologies.”

The statement continues: “Our commitment to the community and to social justice is visible every day in impactful programs in Detroit supporting education, economic development, community involvement, civic and voter engagement, athletics and philanthropy.”

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