Photo: Jim Trotter/Twitter

The headlines have become so painfully repetitive and the hashtags so common that the unjust killing of unarmed black citizens at the hands of law enforcement officers no longer comes as a shock. In the wake of a new political era brought about by the nomination of President-elect Donald Trump, there is reasonable concern that racial tensions between the police and communities of color will continue to be strained.

In an effort to advocate for police accountability and justice for victims of brutality, five NFL players traveled to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. According to ESPN, Detroit Lions receiver Anquan Boldin and teammate Glover Quin, Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, and Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins met with several members of congress, including the Congressional Black Caucus and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. The trip was organized by Boldin, the NFL's 2015 recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, whose cousin was shot and killed by a plainclothes cop on a highway in South Florida last year. bo

On October 18, 2015, Palm Beach Gardens officer Nouman Raja reportedly approached 31-year-old Corey Jones, who was sitting in his broken down vehicle on the side of the highway. Raja, who was dressed in plain clothes and driving an unmarked white van, never identified himself as a police officer before shooting six rounds into the vehicle, three of which hit Jones. The incident was recorded by the AT&T employee Jones was speaking with at the time of his murder. Raja was convicted by a grand jury and charged with attempted murder in the first-degree. 

In an interview with ESPN’s Jim Trotter, Boldin said, “You want to make sure they understand the things that we, as an African-American community, are going through. I don’t think our community feels that way right now, especially when it comes to law enforcement and the way we’re being policed. Our neighborhoods are feeling hurt…you want to see changes in policy, in terms of how we train our police officers. And lastly, you want to see accountability – that justice will be served for all – to make sure that the relationship between the African-American community and police can be better. There’s work to be done on both sides because there’s a huge mistrust there. I want to help close that gap.”

Kudos to these athletes for using their influence to advocate for justice.

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