Recently, several team members of the Cleveland Browns were seen kneeling during the Star-Spangled Banner; and they received some serious backlash for it. The Browns stated that they did not want to participate in the song due to the current political issues and racism across the country. The argued that they were simply exercising their freedom of speech.
In response, several police officers and EMS personnel have declared that they will not hold the flag before Browns games in the future.
Steve Loomis, President of the Cleveland, Ohio police union has made it clear that their actions were a message to management, rather than a protest against the players themselves nor impeding on their right to freedom of speech.
“We’re not going to participate in something with the Cleveland Browns when the management and NFL [front office] condones this behavior,” said Loomis.
Police Chief Calvin Williams commented, “The decision to boycott game time festivities was simply not the viewpoint of all of our officers.” Loomis stated that Williams is “not in touch with reality,” and that we should not be “accepting the players’ poor behavior.”
EMS Union Chief Dan Nemeth says that choosing to kneel was “deeply disturbing.” He argued that these athletes should be acting as role models for today’s youth.
Players who chose to kneel rather than stand during the anthem are: Isaiah Crowell, Seth DeValve, Jabrill Peppers, Jamar Taylor, Christian Kirksey, Kenny Britt, Duke Johnson, Ricardo Louis, and Jamie Collins.