Posted on May 14, 2020

NFL Star Wants to Close Legal ‘Loopholes’ After Ahmaud Arbery’s Death. He’s Calling on AG Barr to Help.

Erik Ortiz, NBC News, May 12, 2020

More than 60 current and former NFL players and coaches signed their names to a letter last week asking Attorney General William Barr to use the full force of federal law to investigate the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man who was followed and fatally shot by white men in his Georgia community in February.

That letter from the Players Coalition, a social justice group formed in 2017 in the wake of player protests during the national anthem, said the Justice Department and the FBI are needed to ensure that Arbery’s case wasn’t mishandled by local authorities and that the men charged with murder are held accountable.

NFL star Malcolm Jenkins, who co-founded the coalition with retired wide receiver Anquan Boldin, told NBC News that the request for federal intervention also carries a greater purpose.

“The sad truth is that Ahmaud’s case isn’t unique at all,” Jenkins said. “He is a representation of the ongoing level of distrust that a large part of our communities have in law enforcement and elected officials and the importance of placing reform like-minded people in office who will uphold the highest standards of the law for everyone, regardless of color.”

“It also reinforces that we need hate crime laws in Georgia as well as Arkansas, South Carolina and Wyoming,” Jenkins said of the four states without such legislation. “These ‘loopholes’ to justify these kinds of acts will continue to hold us back from justice for everyone.”

Among those who support the Players Coalition’s letter are former player Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president, Miami Dolphins linebacker Kyle Van Noy, New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, now of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

On Friday, Jenkins joined people across the country who jogged for 2.23 miles to remember Arbery.

“Rest in peace, king,” Jenkins — a veteran safety who won two Super Bowls, one with the New Orleans Saints and the other with the Philadelphia Eagles, who re-signed with the Saints earlier this year — said in an online video. “Doing my jog for you.”

On Monday, the Justice Department said it is weighing the possibility of federal hate crime charges, giving Jenkins hope.

“The FBI and DOJ have an army of resources, and their goal never changes: to protect the vulnerable and intervene where powerful people have caused grave harm,” he said. “They obtained a guilty verdict in the Rodney King case. They held the perpetrators of the Danziger Bridge shootings accountable. They have prosecuted guards at Parchman prisons. And they have led investigations all over the country that have proved critical in restoring trust between law enforcement and people of color.”

Arbrey’s death has resonated with Jenkins and others who say they see themselves in his shoes. He said that as a black man — regardless of his status as a pro athlete — he understands the burden of being scrutinized and the implicit bias of others when he’s out in public.

“Everyday. Walking the dog, taking out the trash, just walking through my own neighborhood, you always must be conscious of what you look like,” he said. {snip}


Jenkins said the video apparently showing Arbery locked in a physical struggle with Travis McMichael was hard to watch.

“Any human being who has seen the video should connect to Ahmaud,” he said. “That said, it is an extremely hard pill to swallow as a black person to watch yet another black body be shot down in the middle of the street. But the most infuriating thing is, as you mourn the loss of a life, is to have their murder justified by white fear and self-defense.”