The Cleveland police union announced that their members will not hold the American flag for a pregame ceremony at the Browns’ first game Sept. 10. This is in response to several Browns players kneeling and praying at a preseason game during the national anthem. This decision was announced by Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Steve Loomis:
“The players not standing for the national anthem is offensive because of the sacrifices that people make that allows these guys to enjoy the success that they have. While they’re benefiting from protection of the flag they are kneeling in disrespect of it.”
This raises another question: Is a protest of the protest also disrespectful of the troops and the values the flag represents? Or is it acceptable to protest the protesters and not take part in a national anthem ceremony before a large crowd because a small percentage of players will kneel?
This move does re-focus on what has been at the heart of these protests–conflicts between the African-American community and police departments. The protests are more directly aimed at the police who would otherwise be attending and holding the flags.
This is not the first time the Cleveland police Union has been at odds with the Browns over player actions. In 2014, the Union President (not Loomis at that time) demanded an apology because Andrew Hawkins of the Browns wore a “Justice for Tamir Rice” shirt before a game. The Police Chief disagreed with the Union’s demand and said no apology was necessary (and none came.) The City of Cleveland ultimately settled a claim with Tamir Rice’s family for $6 million.
Loomis also sought action after Isaiah Crowell posted a graphic image on Instagram in July of a man slitting a police officer’s throat. The Union ultimately accepted Crowell’s apology after he made a public statement and a donation to the Fallen Officers Foundation.