Philadelphia Eagles player Malcolm Jenkins was an early participant in the NFL's "Star-Spangled Banner" protests when he led a group of three Eagles raising fists prior to the second game of the 2016 season last September.
Feared on the field and well-respected off it, the New Jersey native took part in an 11-minutes documentary posted online Tuesday in which he toured North Philadelphia with a police officer from the 25th district named George Soto.
The video, as part of a series by Vice Sports called The Clubhouse, also included Jenkins interviewing Police Commissioner Richard Ross about the state of policing in America and how to improve relations with the community.
"It’s an opportunity to bring both sides to the table in an interaction that’s not negative," Jenkins says.
During the ride-along, Soto and Jenkins are cruising along West Glenwood Avenue on their way to a meeting with community leaders at the 12th and Cambria Community Center when Soto laments the state of relations.
"Something that bothers me is like when we’re driving around and we’re stopped at a light, I’ll see some kids and I’ll wave to them. And their parents would tell them, 'Oh, don’t be bad cuz they’ll lock you up,'" Soto tells Jenkins. "That comes down to the actual parent to teach their kids that we’re not here to lock them up. We’re here to help them."
Jenkins reminisces about growing up and remembering that officers seemed to be "policing" the neighborhood instead of "protecting" it.
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Later, while interviewing Ross, the two men acknowledge a long road to improving the way law enforcement deals with minority residents.
"We acknowledge we got a long way to go," Ross says. "I'm not trying to sit here and be disingenuous and tell you we got this formula because we don’t. We want our communities to respect us and we have to do the same for them."
Jenkins also defends protests by black Americans seeking social justice reform, like those of NFL players last season.
"You can be pro-police and pro-justice at the same time," he tells Ross. "You can stand for people that are being wronged without disrespecting police officers or disrespecting law enforcement."