Last month, the Cleveland Browns made headlines when eleven of their players launched an “anthem protest” during a preseason game. Linebacker Chris Kirksey later told reporters
: “We respect everything that’s happened with people in the military, we respect all of that, we just felt that it was the right time to do that, to say a prayer for this country. We did it out of respect. No disrespect for anyone, we just felt like it was the right time and the need to do it.”
Unfortunately, the team’s decision seems to have angered local police. Steve Loomis, President of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, announced that members of Cleveland’s police union have now turned down the Browns offer to hold the American flag during the season opener.
Loomis, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and the United States Navy, told Cleveland.com:
“It’s hypocritical of the Browns management and ownership to want to have an armed forces first-responder day, and have us involved in it when they allow their players to take a knee during the national anthem. That’s the very representation of what we stand for. That’s why we aren’t going to.”
It has since been made it clear that Loomis speaks only for his union and is not a representative for the department at-large. Sergeant Jennifer Ciaccia, Public Information Officer for Cleveland Division of Police, told Huffington Post: “The Division of Police is in no way boycotting the Browns nor denying participation in events with our officers.”
However, Loomis is not alone. An Emergency Medical Services union representing dispatchers, EMTs and paramedics, is also turned down the Browns’ request to hold the flag during the season opener. Daniel Nemeth, president of C.A.R.E. ILA Local 1975, told Fox 8 Cleveland
: “[I’m] 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.”
Following the white supremacist marches in Charlottesville, there have been renewed calls for protests, and it seems clear that they will continue during the coming NFL season.