Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins wrote an essay for the Philadelphia Inquirer explaining why he is in the streets, taking part in the nationwide protests following George Floyd’s death.
Jenkins explains that even though he lives comfortably, owns a business, is famous and has privilege that he’s “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 wrote. “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.”
He talked about the statue of Frank Rizzo outside City Hall. Rizzo served as Philadelphia police commissioner from 1968 to 1971 and mayor of Philadelphia from 1972 to 1980, and Jenkins explained in depth about why Rizzo “embodies all that is wrong with American policing.”
The city finally removed the statue of Rizzo on Wednesday morning after Jenkins’ essay was published.
“We are out in the streets demanding change because for over 150 years of ‘freedom’ in this country we have exhausted every other recourse,” said Jenkins, co-founder of the Players Coalition. “There are protesters on the ground with their hands up, even as police fire tear gas and rubber bullets at them, to draw attention to the fact that, for so many in this country, kneeling before the flag, as many athletes did, is a worse offense than kneeling on a black man’s neck until he perishes.
“We are out in the streets because we are tired of the constant, everyday display of authoritarianism by police forces in black communities, wealthy and poor alike: the constant stop-and-frisks, vehicle searches, and arrests of black men as if our lives do not matter. We are tired of police using extreme measures when protecting property and then giving a fraction of that vigor to protect the honor, decency, and humanity of the black people in this city.
“We are out in the streets because we have a president who refuses to acknowledge the cries of the people. Instead of delivering a message acknowledging the pain that African Americans are feeling after watching the horrific murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, President Trump thinks it is better to answer their cries with more force. Not only is he ignoring the overwhelming outcry of the people, he’s adding lighter fluid to a nation that is already up in flames.”
Jenkins ends his essay with this: “If we are ever to move forward, every person not in the streets must ask why so many other people are. I know there are some who are afraid that our streets will never be the same. That is the point.”