Members of unions representing Cleveland police officers and paramedics have said they wont hold a US flag during the Browns pregame ceremonies
Members of unions representing Cleveland police officers and paramedics have said they wont hold a US flag during ceremonies at next Sundays Cleveland Browns season opener after a group of Browns players knelt during the national anthem.
Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmens Association, cited his service in the US Navy when he told WKYC-TV he was astounded that Browns management knew of the protests but allowed it to occur. I am not going to participate or work with management that allows their players to disrespect the flag and the national anthem, Loomis said.
Nearly a dozen Browns players knelt in a circle and prayed in silent protest during the anthem before a preseason home game on 21 August against the New York Giants. A smaller group of players placed hands on the shoulders of their kneeling team-mates.
A team spokesman issued a statement at halftime that said the organization has a profound respect for the national anthem, the US flag and those who serve in the military.
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, the statement said.
Dan Nemeth, president of the Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees Local 1975, said he had a similar reaction to that of Loomis. He told Cleveland.com he served in the US Marine Corps and finds it hypocritical for Browns management to say they support the military while allowing players to kneel during the anthem.
When I was growing up, we were taught to stand every morning, put our hands over our hearts and say the Pledge of Allegiance, Nemeth said. And when we did that, we typically had someone holding the flag in front of the class. For them to disrespect the flag by taking a knee did not sit well with me.
A veterans group outside the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville said last week that it would not show Browns games because of the player protests.
The Browns protests are part of a social-consciousness movement started last season by Colin Kaepernick, who became a polarizing figure for kneeling during the anthem. Kaepernick is currently without an NFL team, a position many feel is due to his refusal to stand for the anthem.