After Browns’ Anthem Protest, Cleveland Police Union Won’t Hold Flag

It’s been quite an interesting preseason in Cleveland for the Browns and their fans.

They’ve endured critiques about their starting quarterback situation before finally announcing that DeShone Kizer would be their starter and cutting ties with Brock Osweiler. They looked at overpriced veterans and decided to part ways with two-time Pro Bowler Joe Haden, who ended up signing with the Steelers. A few days later they reached out to their division rival and traded for Sammie Coates and a 2019 seventh-round pick for the Browns’ 2018 sixth-round pick. The end result? A 4-0 record in the preseason, much better than the team’s 2016 record of 1-15.

But one other thing stood out in the team’s preseason, and that is the silent protest held by a group of players during the national anthem against the New York Giants two weeks ago. There were fifteen players in all who took part in the protest, five of which held the shoulders of the ten players who were kneeling, including Seth Devalve, the first white player to take a knee in the movement started by Colin Kaepernick last season.

Coy Wire on Twitter

1st white player kneeling in anthem protest @SethDevalve “I myself will be raising children that don’t look like me

There were some rumblings in the aftermath of the protest, but nothing too significant surfaced as the preseason rolled on.

But then the first major objection to the group’s silent protest came to light.

According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association will not be participating in the pregame ceremony of holding the American flag during the Browns’ first game on September 10th.

“As a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and the United States Navy, and a 24-year veteran of the Cleveland Police Department,” said Steve Loomis, President of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, “I am not going to participate or work with management that allows their players to disrespect the flag and the national anthem.

“It’s just ignorant for someone to do that,” said Loomis. “It just defies logic to me. The fact that management was aware of what they planned on doing, that’s as offensive as it can get.”

Flashing back to that game on August 21st against the Giants, the Browns had issued the statement below at halftime in response to the silent protest, a statement which they re-released in response to questions regarding the union’s decision.

As an organization, we have a profound respect for our countrys National Anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad. We feel its important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country including the freedom of personal expression.

Joining the police union in protest is ILA Local 1975, which represents Cleveland’s EMTs, dispatchers and paramedics.

“This hit home with me.” said EMS union president Daniel Nemeth. “I am a veteran, an 8-year veteran with the U.S. Marine Corps. So, to disrespect the flag by taking a knee is not something I was going to be a part of.”

Nemeth went further in an interview with HuffPost.

The NFL brags about how they love the military and safety forces and everything that we do for this country, but obviously they dont show it because theyre not setting forth any rules about [the national anthem].”

Ironically, Nemeth admitted that racial injustice and police misconduct, two of the very things which these protests are addressing, exist and are realistic issues. But it appears he supports the lazy and ridiculous theory that athletes should just stick to sports, something which cannot be done anymore, especially in light of this country’s current state under Trump.

I dont believe in using your position and where youre at to make it a big thing, said Nemeth to HuffPost. From what we came from, what this nation came from, to what is now, is it a better place? Heck yeah.

But what Nemeth fails to recognize, or declines to acknowledge, is that things are “better” than “what we came from” due to people using their platform to shine light on the injustices in the world, including athletes. 

The killing of young Black men, Black Lives Matter and Kap’s movement have all contributed to the awakening of the socially conscious athlete from its long slumber and hibernation due to the lure of million dollar contracts, helping to remind everyone that, despite the criticism and hate filled response, racism, injustice and the ugly things they bring in tow have always been alive and working. Only now, in a socially connective and active world, more can actually see it, as evidenced by the events in Charlottesville a few weeks ago.

WATCH- “Athletes Responses to Charlottesville”

Athlete Responses To Charlottesville

While the negative reactions to these protests will always flare up, players have the right to use their platforms to participate in these silent, non-violent, completely legal activities. And this freedom is protected by our Constitution and those who abide by it.

The union does not speak for the Division, public information officer Jennifer Ciaccia told HuffPost. The Division of Police is in no way boycotting the Browns, nor denying participation in events with our officers.

We’ll see what happens next Sunday.

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