The distrust between police officers and people of color doesn’t go away just because they’ve obtained fame and increased added commas to their bank accounts. They still feel the tension in the communities and are often harassed and wrongfully arrested themselves. To prove that they’re not removed from the international dialogue on police violence, a group of NFL players went back to Capitol Hill this week to speak with members of Congress about what could be done.
NFL Players Meet Congress Members
Anquan Boldin, a current free agent, led a portion of the discussion on Thursday, according to MSNBC. The issues of police violence hit close to home when his cousin was fatally shot by an off-duty cop in 2015. The officer in question has been charged with a trial set for October, but Boldin is still impacted by the loss.
“One of the hardest parts of this whole experience has been the lack of understanding about what happened, why it happened, and what is happening in the legal process,” Boldin told a panel of lawmakers.
The lawmakers present were Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Rep. John Conyers Jr., (D-MI), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), who facilitated the back and forth discussion about potential improvements in police-community relations and fixing the U.S. penal system to prevent a cycle of arresting recently released inmates.
“We are here today to discuss ways to build greater trust between police and minority communities,” said Cummings. “We also want to discuss concrete proposals to help former inmates who have done their time and are leaving prison to re-enter society and make meaningful contributions to the neighborhoods in which they live.”
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Creating Ongoing Change in Community Policing
Other current and retired players in attendance for the Congressional forum entitled “NFL Players Speak Up: First-Hand Experiences and Building Trust Between Communities and Police” included Malcolm Jenkins, Johnson Bademosi and Donte Stallworth.
“We need to invest in job training, education, rehabilitation, and advancement programs to end the cycle of repeat offenders and arrests,” said Malcolm Jenkins, who has a foundation focused on just that. “When they come out of prison we want them to be contributing members of society and not perceived as a threat.”
This isn’t the first time Boldin and other NFL players have made their way to D.C> to work as mediators. They did something very similar back in November to speak on police brutality in communities of color.