An opinion piece written by Philadelphia Eagles star safety Malcolm Jenkins and published by the Philadelphia Inquirer that recommends reforms for the city police department was labeled "racist" by the city police union's president.
Jenkins, whose essay ran Monday on Inquirer.com, calls for six reforms under the next police commissioner, including "how law enforcement polices our children" and increases in "accountability" and "transparency."
He also asked that Mayor Jim Kenney listens to Philadelphia residents as he looks for a permanent replacement to former Commissioner Richard Ross, who resigned in August. Ross is accused of mishandling sexual harassment claims by two female officers, according to a lawsuit.
On Tuesday, the president of Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police #5, which represents uniformed officers, wrote a letter to the newspaper, according to his Twitter account.
"Hurling slurs and false allegations against police offers nothing in the way of improvement, " FOP President John McNesby wrote. "Like other has been football players, they now do most of their running with their mouths."
McNesby used a couple other football-related zingers in his six-paragraph letter, including: "Only the Inquirer would offer Malcolm Jenkins to tackle crime, when he can't even manage to tackle his own opponents."
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(Last year, Jenkins was voted by fellow NFL players as the 96th best player in the entire league.)
McNesby also called Jenkins' calls for reforms "a racist attack" and claims Jenkins doesn't live in Philadelphia.
Property and voter registration records, however, indicate that Jenkins does live in the Northern Liberties neighborhood. He is registered as a Democrat in Pennsylvania's 175th legislative district, according to state records.
Jenkins has been one of the most outspoken professional athletes for reform the criminal justice system, from overhauling the bail and parole systems to decriminalization of misdemeanor drug offenses and changes in police-community relations.
NBC10 spoke with him last year as he went cross-country campaigning for progressive district attorneys running in local elections.
He and billionaire George Soros have both been very active in supporting local prosecutors like Larry Krasner, who they see as positive agents of change in criminal justice. Soros earlier in November scored another victory locally when he lent support to Democrat Jack Stollsteimer in the Delaware County District Attorney's race. Stollsteimer went on to beat incumbent Republican Kat Copeland.
"Everyone in this reform battle is realizing this is a place where we can quickly see change," Jenkins said in an interview in May 2018. "In California, DAs are being elected in Oakland, San Diego and Sacramento. This is an opportunity to start here and push that reform across the country. We’ve seen the fruits of that in Philadelphia."
Jenkins helped form The Players Coalition to push — and fund — social justice reform. One of their main efforts has been combating police brutality against minorities.
Among his six proposed reforms, Jenkins called for Mayor Jim Kenney to hire a police commissioner that won't bow to McNesby's powerful union.
"Nearly every time we hear a story of an officer abusing power, whether through violence or racist Facebook postings, the police union is there to defend the bad behavior," Jenkins wrote in the op-ed. "We need a commissioner who isn’t in lockstep with the union and who will instead push back when the union tries to hide and justify bad behavior."
At the end of the essay, Jenkins wrote that "a commissioner who commits to meeting these demands will have taken a critical step forward in repairing a system that is deeply broken."