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Worth Rises Urges Tom Gores to Sell Pistons Due to His Prison Telecom Company

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIIDecember 20, 2020

Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores watches in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks in Detroit, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Another of Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores' business ventures has led an advocacy group to start a push for Gores to sell the team.

Gores, who has owned the Pistons since 2011, also owns Securus Technologies, a company that sets prices for phone calls made from prison nationwide. The calls sometimes cost more than $14 for 15 minutes, according to John Barr of ESPN. 

Worth Rises, a New York-based organization that is aimed at prison reform, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times on Sunday, pushing the league's owners to organize against Gores. 

"At the end of the day, his business stands in complete tension with the notion that Black Lives Matter, and that's something he has to reckon with," Bianca Tylek, the founder and executive director of Worth Rises, told Barr. 

In the United States, 40 percent of the 2.3 million people who are incarcerated are Black, but Black people make up just 13 percent of the country's population, per the Prison Policy Initiative. 

As the league returned to play in the bubble in Orlando, Florida, earlier this year, the Black Lives Matter campaign was a centerpiece of the action, with players replacing their last names with phrases promoting equality and protests after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. 

Tylek, who co-signed a letter that resulted in Gores resigning from a position on the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, sent a letter to the league offices earlier this month, and she told Barr that a league executive said her "passion for reform ... is shared by Mr. Gores." 

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"We are opposed to the notion of anybody making money off of incarceration," Tylek said. "The idea that anybody is going to privately build wealth off of people who are incarcerated, we don't support because those companies have a vested interest in people's incarceration."

The Pistons did not comment on the advertisement, and Mark Barnhill, Gores' partner in their firm, Platinum Equity, said the company works with organizations in Detroit in the fight for social justice and that Gores donates his profits from Securus to "reform efforts."