The Cleveland police union will not be holding the American flag during a pre-game ceremony for the Brown’s season opener on September 10 as part of a counter protest of the national anthem protest that took place during a preseason game against the New York Giants earlier this year.
On August 21, a dozen Cleveland Browns players kneeled during the national anthem in what was the largest anthem protest from NFL players to date.
Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Steve Loomis said the group would not hold up part of the American flag during the season opener against the Pittsburg Steelers later this month. He said that the NFL and the Browns organization were to blame for not doing anything about the national anthem protest.
“It’s just ignorant for someone to do that,” Loomis said, Cleveland.com reported. “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.”
“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,” Loomis told Fox8. “We’re not gonna participate.”
Daniel Nemeth, president of a branch of the Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees, which represents EMTs and other First Responders, decided to not participate in the event, as well.
“The NFL brags about how they love the military and safety forces and everything that we do for this country, but obviously they don’t show it because they’re not setting forth any rules about [the national anthem],” Nemeth told the Huffington Post.
Following the initial protest on Aug. 21, the Cleveland Browns released a statement to the media.
“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,” the statement said. “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.”
Cleveland Police Spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia said that the union does not represent the entirety of the Cleveland Police Department.
“The union does not speak for the division,” Ciaccia told the Huffington Post. “The Division of Police is in no way boycotting the Browns, nor denying participation in events with our officers.”