Malcolm Jenkins has been raising his right fist during the national anthem since the 2016 season. On Thursday night, Eagles defensive end Chris Long stood next to him with his arm around Jenkins’ shoulders.
“I just told Malcolm, ‘I’m here for you,'” Long said after the game, via The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I think it’s a good time for people that look like me to be here for people that are fighting for equality.
“If you don’t see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don’t think you’ll ever see it. My thing is Malcolm’s a leader and I’m here to show support as a white athlete.”
Long played his college football at the University of Virginia, located in Charlottesville. The display of unity comes five days after violence erupted in the city on Saturday afternoon, where white nationalists rallied, and a car plowed through counter-protesters, killing one.
Long spoke out on the incident on Monday. “Some people are tired of hearing me tweet because they want me to stick to football but I like to use social media like I was a regular guy because I think I am,” he told CSNPhilly. “I don't tell people to stick to their job when they want to talk politics. And this isn't political. That's the thing. Everybody is trying to turn this political. This isn't a political issue. This is right or wrong.”
Malcolm Jenkins was one of the players who joined Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest during the 2016 season. He told ESPN on Aug. 10 that he would continue his protest into this season.
“Last season, I raised my fist as a sign of solidarity to support people, especially people of color, who were and are still unjustly losing their lives at the hands of officers with little to no consequence,” he said. “After spending time with police officers on ride-alongs, meeting with politicians on the state and federal level and grassroots organizations fighting for human rights, it's clear that our criminal justice system is still crippling communities of color through mass incarceration.”
Jenkins concluded with, “I want to challenge those who stay silent to be courageous and use your platforms to become part of the solution. God bless.”
So far the preseason has shown that national anthem protests are here to stay, and Long’s support for Jenkins has already inspired others. On Friday night, Seahawks center Justin Britt put his arm on teammate Michael Bennett while Bennett sat during the national anthem.