Browns to stand in unity with police, armed forces during national anthem
The Cleveland Browns are planning a large demonstration to be held during the national anthem before their first regular season game, but players will not be kneeling in protest as they did during the preseason.
Instead, the Browns will be joined by police officers, firefighters, EMTs and members of the U.S. armed forces in a show of solidarity. Several Browns players recently went to Cleveland police and team owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam with the idea. Cleveland police chief Calvin Williams explained the motivation behind the decision.
“It means that people are willing to sit down and work together to come up with actual solutions rather than just talking about what’s wrong and who’s at fault,” Williams told Pat McManamon of ESPN.com. “That’s what the Browns have come to the table and said: ‘We want to be able to talk to folks and start a dialogue.’ “Which is kind of what … if you want to call it a protest .. or what their prayer was about — to start a dialogue to start to talk about some of these issues and try to come up with solutions.
“The players led this. They were the ones saying, ‘We want to get out in the community to start talking about this.'”
Players who came up with the idea included linebackers Chris Kirksey and Jamie Collins, tight ends Seth DeValve and Randall Telfer, defensive backs Ibraheim Campbell and Jamar Taylor, and wide receiver Ricardo Louis.
“We want to unify and not create a disconnect between us and our fans or anyone else watching the games,” Telfer said. “We don’t mean any disrespect toward the flag, the national anthem, law enforcement or any civil servant. We have a clear vision of what we hope this nation and this community can be like. Those are the steps we’re taking.”
The announcement may come as a surprise to some after Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association president Steve Loomis told Cleveland.com that members of the union were refusing to hold the flag before the Browns’ Week 1 game because of the decision of several players to kneel during the national anthem. Loomis changed his tune after being invited to take part in Sunday’s ceremony.
“We have accepted their invitation and the Chief’s office is detailing 20 members to participate in this event,” he said in a statement. “Once again Cleveland has risen above the fray and has demonstrated that respectful communication is the key to solving any problem. We can always accomplish much more good by standing, communicating and working together than we ever will by standing apart.”
Dee Haslam commended the players for their efforts and said they have the complete support of the organization. Browns legend Jim Brown, who was recently critical of players for protesting the national anthem, is one of the people who urged players to use more positive methods for instituting change.