Slow clap for Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, free agent wide receiver Anquan Boldin and the other NFL players who took their case to Congress this week to push lawmakers for legislation to improve the relationship between minority communities and the police.
It’s their second trip to Washington to advocate for solutions in the wake of the racial rhetoric of the 2016 elections, and the near repetitious news about deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement throughout much of the last three years.
For the two playmakers, they wanted to make their case to Congress that the need is urgent. They wish to end private prisons and put an halt to mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent offenders which can result in lengthy terms.
“Football is easier than doing this,” Jenkins told The Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday. “You’ve got to do the research, and you’ve got to come prepared. And when you’re speaking on behalf of other people, you want to make sure you bring the right voice to the table.”
Boldin agreed with him.
“We all know that once you’re in the system, it’s hard to be a normal citizen,” Boldin told the AP. “You get discriminated against with jobs, with housing.”
Boldin, who played for the Detroit Lions last season before becoming a free agent called private prisons a “huge problem” because the companies behind them are in contract agreements assuring them a certain amount of prisoners. “We feel like that’s one of the things that leads to quotas by police officers,” Boldin said.
The fractured relationship between the Black community and law enforcement, the two players say, are what is opening a lot of eyes and can’t be ignored. Cases like Michael Brown in Ferguson and others have awakened people.
“We get access to videos and it’s on the news and people are starting to see what this looks like,” Jenkins said. “And now those who weren’t exposed to it before are forced to choose a side, and forced to deal with this issue. And that is what’s dividing our country. The problem has been there. And it’s always been there. But it’s becoming harder for us to sweep it under the rug.”
Jenkins and Boldin are scheduled to speak Thursday at a congressional forum on building trust between communities and police. They will be joined by Lions cornerback Johnson Bademosi and former Washington Redskins wide receiver Donte Stallworth.