SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wide receiver Torrey Smith, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and safety Mike Adams were among a handful of players across the NFL who on Wednesday helped the Players Coalition launch their latest social justice campaign.
Smith, Munnerlyn and Adams wore shirts under their pads that read: “Nearly 5,000 kids are in adult prisons and jails”, accompanied by a #schoolsnotprisons hashtag.
“We're building more prisons than we are schools,” Smith said after the Panthers wrapped up their sixth practice of training camp. “There are a lot of areas where the schools just aren't up to par. It's one of many things guys are fighting for in the community each and every week. I know specifically where I was in Baltimore, they're building new prisons. But if you walk into a school, it basically looks like a prison in a lot of ways. They don't have what they need. They don't have the resources. It's just something to bring attention to a particular subject and to get people talking about it.”
Smith and players like Philadelphia’s Malcolm Jenkins, who reportedly was also wearing a #schoolsnotprisons shirt at Eagles camp, have repeatedly stressed that recent player protests were not against the national anthem or the military. Instead, they’re hoping to spark productive conversations while working to address social justice issues in communities around the country. #schoolsnotprisons is the next step toward those efforts.
“You'd rather spread a message without it being conflicting. It's not controversial. So you're spreading a message without having people take their words and run with it in another direction,” Smith said.
“We're trying to figure out ways to be positive, not to be a distraction, not to do anything that's going to be conflicting. We didn't do anything but wear a shirt.”