A Brief History
On September 10, 2017, the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League open their regular season schedule for 2017 against arch-rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Prior to the game, a plan having Cleveland Police and EMS (Rescue Employees) officers holding an enormous US Flag while the National Anthem is played is being boycotted by Police and EMS unions angry over Browns’ management reaction to players protests during previous playing of the National Anthem.
In 2016, 49’rs quarterback Colin Kaepernick, an African American, decided to sit during the playing of the National Anthem before football games as a protest directed largely at police across the country, police perceived by Kaepernick and others as oppressive toward African Americans and even with murderous intent. Under pressure, Kaepernick modified his actions to taking a knee instead of sitting on the bench, while other, mostly African American football players in the NFL also made the silent gesture of protest.
Fans, especially veterans and police officers quickly became irate over the lax attitude of NFL management, in allowing a blatantly political protest to take place on “company” time. Attendance at NFL games dropped, and viewership on television waned, possibly due to disgust over the perceived disrespect to our flag.
In 2017, at a pre-season game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 12 Browns players (11 African American and 1 White) knelt in a circle before the game during the playing of the National Anthem, the largest demonstration so far. Other players placed a hand on the shoulders of some of the kneeling players.
Outrage and generally poor national publicity led to a change in player behavior, and for the next game the sentiments of the players were expressed by the players standing arm in arm. That change was applauded, but then…
Cleveland Police and EMS unions found out that Browns management had known about the kneeling protest before the Tampa Bay game, and sanctioned the action by doing nothing to discourage it, a gross insult to police in Cleveland and everywhere in the US. Well that did it for the Cops and Rescue workers, and the Unions pulled their people out of participation in the pregame flag ceremony.
The politically appointed Chief of Police for Cleveland, Calvin Williams, predictably condemned the boycott of the event by Cleveland Police. Thanks for the backing, Chief!
Isaiah Crowell, running back for the Browns last year posted a picture of a Black man cutting the throat of a White police officer on the Internet, something for which he apologized, but bitterness lingers among the Police and fans. Similarly, anti-police song lyrics from Beyonce at the 2017 Super Bowl did not endear NFL football in general to the police.
Police bashing seems to have become a national pastime for some Americans, and it is up to responsible Americans to turn the tide back to reality, that the Thin Blue Line is there to serve the people, and 99%+ of the time that is exactly what the cops do. Take the rare exceptional case and retrain or punish the cops involved with misdeeds instead of attacking all police. Making the Police the Enemy is a dangerous and ill-advised way to go. Many police officers are women, African American, Veterans, or other minorities. It is ridiculous to lump all police together just as it is ridiculous to lump any group of people together with stereotypes and prejudice.
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For more information, please see…
Henkel, Frank M. Cleveland Browns History. Arcadia Publishing Library Editions, 2005.