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Malcolm Jenkins pens powerful op-ed on ongoing protests

Malcolm Jenkins holds a strong voice among NFL players who want to change the world well beyond the confines of a stadium.

He used that strong voice Wednesday to produce an even stronger op-ed column published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on the ongoing movement protesting police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

Jenkins, a safety for the New Orleans Saints who spent much of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles and co-founded the Players Coalition, writes from his perspective because he feels he embodies the exact issues which people across the United States and around the globe are protesting. He is a famous football player and business owner who lives comfortably and has privilege. He is a black man. And as he wrote, he is "still afraid."

"I'm afraid because I am very aware that my wealth and life achievements will not introduce me when confronted with police authority," Jenkins writes. "Instead, my skin will do that. Then I am, simply, black.

"And being black in the eyes of far too many police officers means my dignity and my life are not worth protecting. 'Your lives don't matter!' is what police actions tell and have told me and people like me for centuries.

"That is why I am in the street, kneeling and shouting 'no justice, no peace' with the Philadelphia community."

Jenkins takes a measured and well-researched approach to expressing his thoughts and feelings during this period of civil unrest in the U.S., referring to his displeasure regarding the protection of a statue of former Philadelphia police commissioner and mayor Frank Rizzo during and after the recent protests in the city. The statue was removed Wednesday, but only after Jenkins says police "surrounded it with pride" Sunday.

"Years after Rizzo controlled the city, the Philadelphia police force still demanded that we treat his memory with respect, turning a blind eye to the enormous damage his style of policing inflicted on communities of color," Jenkins writes.

"This is just one reason why these protests are not just about the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers."

Jenkins goes on to explain the reasoning behind the ongoing protests from multiple angles before sending a message to those more upset by damage to property than damage to people.

"There are those who want to focus on the looting and rioting. I urge you not to take the easy way out," Jenkins writes. "Challenge yourself to be upset about the unnecessary loss of life at the hands of a disgraceful representative of the state first. I do not condone the violence and looting from citizens, but I most especially have a disdain for the murder of unarmed civilians at the hands of the police.

"The majority of people in the streets are peaceful and they are desperate for change. Even as they kneel and chant about the painful effects of police brutality, they are answered with more police violence. In front of the White House on Monday, in broad daylight, police unleashed tear gas on protesters, none of whom were violent.

"Rather than focusing our attention on the damage of rioting, as a nation, we should ask: Why are people so angry?"

Jenkins follows that question by asking important questions about the recent high-profile deaths of innocent and unarmed black men and women, and suggests redirection of public funding that is largely headed toward law enforcement as it currently stands. He hopes to make an impact by contacting Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney directly before an upcoming budget hearing.

Jenkins closes by turning the lens toward those not currently fighting for change in the streets.

"If we are ever to move forward, every person not in the streets must ask why so many other people are," Jenkins writes.

"I know there are some who are afraid that our streets will never be the same. That is the point."

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