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Largest police union backs out of Browns flag ceremony

Protests against institutional racism found offensive

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Unions for both the Cleveland Police Department and Cleveland Emergency Medical Services backed out of the Cleveland Browns pregame ceremony for their opener on Sept. 10 according to an article published by The Huffington Post. According to an article published by wkyc.com, Detective Steve Loomis, President of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association (CPPA), announced the decision over a week after twelve Browns players protested police brutality and institutional racism in America by kneeling in prayer during the national anthem at a home preseason game against the New York Giants on Aug. 21.

“We’re not going to participate in something with the Cleveland Browns when the management and NFL [front office] condones this behavior,” Loomis said according to an article published by foxnews.com. He threatened to pull the union officers from all their duties at FirstEnergy Stadium if players continue to kneel in protest of police brutality. Similar reactions from police and security unions were seen after Beyonce’s performance at last year’s Super Bowl.

In response, the Browns organization re-released a statement that reaffirmed its position supporting the players’ rights to protest that was published in full by cleveland.com.

“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 read, quoted in an article published by cleveland.com. “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.”

According to an article published by foxnews.com, the Browns players who knelt in protest of racial inequality were Seth DeValve, Isaiah Crowell, Jabrill Peppers, Kenny Britt, Duke Johnson, Christian Kirksey, Jamie Collins, Ricardo Louis and Jamar Taylor.

“There’s a lot of racial and social injustices in the world that are going on right now,” said Peppers in an article published by ESPN. “We just decided to take a knee and pray for the people who have been affected and just pray for the world in general.”

According to an article published by wkyc.com, all Browns players stood during the following games in Chicago and Tampa Bay, opting to link arms instead of kneeling in prayer.  

According to an article published by The Washington Post, the U.S. Justice Department found that CPD engaged in a “pattern or practice of excessive force,” and efforts to reform policing in the city began in 2015.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams released an official statement, published in full by cleveland.com, after Loomis announced the decision of the CPPA, distinguishing between those involved in the union and the division as a whole. The division of police will continue to provide support the Browns, regardless of the actions of Loomis, he said in the same statement. The police union does not speak for the entirety of the Cleveland Police Department, he explained in the same statement. Some officers independent of the union may still take the field for the ceremony, according to an article published by the huffington post.

“Recent statements made by the President of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association would lead one to believe that members of the Cleveland Division of Police are against participating in events with our Cleveland Browns athletes. This is simply not the viewpoint of all of our officers,” he said in the same statement, published in full by cleveland.com. “The Cleveland Browns Organization has been a longtime partner of the Cleveland Division of Police… We know that we can count on this partnership to continue. As law enforcement officers, we took an oath to serve and to protect. We protect the rights of all citizens to express their views as protected by the First Amendment of our constitution, no matter the issue. Our American flag is an important symbol to our great country and we, as officers, will continue to salute it.”

Williams also stressed the importance of communication between the Browns and the police department in the same statement.

He said in the same statement, “We want to hear from our players, the fans and our citizens of this great city. We want to bridge the gap. We want to talk.”

Loomis disagreed with his ranking superior, according to an article published by foxnews.com.

“Calvin Williams is not in touch with reality,” Loomis said, in a statement, quoted in the article by foxnews.com believing that the majority of officers aligned themselves against the players’ protest. “They’re absolutely with us.”

According to an article published by The Huffington Post, The Emergency Medical Services Union chief, Dan Nemeth, called the protest by the players “deeply disturbing,” and thought that it set a negative example for youth.

The Browns protest continues a discussion about racism in the National Football League. Colin Kaepernick, who was the first player in the NFL to protest the issue, is still out of a job.

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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source
Largest police union backs out of Browns flag ceremony