The Cleveland police union has refused to hold the flag at the upcoming NFL season opener for the Browns after several players knelt during the national anthem at a preseason game Aug. 21.
Union members had planned to participate in the opening ceremony at the Sept. 10 game by holding the American flag, but rescinded the offer after protests against the national anthem. Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Steve Loomis made the announcement late Friday, Cleveland.com reported. Loomis’ anger rose after a group of Browns players knelt and prayed during the national anthem on Aug. 21.
“When management allows you to do those things, then that’s on them,” Loomis told the website. “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 too.”
The Browns management expressed support for their players’ protest just minutes after it happened.
“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,” a Browns spokesman said in a statement at halftime. “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.”
Loomis was furious that Browns managers had known ahead of time about the protest and still allowed it to move forward.
“It’s just ignorant for someone to do that,” Loomis told reporters. “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.”