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The Cleveland police union is so upset that about a dozen Browns players recently knelt during the national anthem before a preseason NFL game that it’s decided to not hold the American flag during the anthem before the first regular season contest next week.
In other words …
Cleveland police will not participate in national anthem tradition to protest players' refusal to participate in national anthem tradition. https://t.co/ZxCJbqfMjz— Jeff Weiner (@JeffWeinerOS) September 3, 2017
Asked Cle police union pres 4 comment on cops plan to protest Browns players national anthem protest by not holding flag and oh my the irony pic.twitter.com/D8vsDraOWi— Vince Grzegorek (@vincethepolack) September 3, 2017
This isn’t the first time the Cleveland police union has been mad at the Browns organization. In 2014, after receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a shirt demanding justice for Tamir Rice—the 12-year-old who was shot by police in 2014—the union demanded an apology.
Jeff Follmer, then the Police Patrolman Union president, called Hawkins’ protest “pathetic” three years ago. Now, Steve Loomis, the current union president, called the Browns hypocritical for allowing their players to protest the national anthem.
“I’m here at a national police convention, and soon as they hear that I’m from Cleveland, the first question is, ‘What about those stinking Browns?’” Loomis told Fox 8. “So if the ownership of the Browns and the league are going to allow that type of stuff to happen, and then come to us and say, ‘We want you to help us with the flag,’ that’s hypocritical. We’re not going to participate.”
In a recent statement, via Cleveland.com, the Browns said, “As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country’s national anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad. We feel it’s 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.”
About a dozen Browns last month kneelt during the anthem during a preseason game, including Seth DeValve, believed to be the first white NFL player to do so.
Woah. A ton of Browns kneeling during the national anthem here pic.twitter.com/Qv6qSPs6kX— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) August 22, 2017
For the record, the Cleveland police department is not involved, as a spokesperson told the Huffington Post. “The union does not speak for the Division. The Division of Police is in no way boycotting the Browns, nor denying participation in events with our officers.”
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.