I TEAM: Cleveland activist calls out Browns players over anthem demonstration

CLEVELAND - The FOX 8 I TEAM has found a voice you haven’t heard yet in the raging debate about Browns players demonstrating and kneeling during the national anthem. A local activist is calling them out.

Fred Ward runs Khnemu Lighthouse in Cleveland’s gritty, dangerous Glenville section. And he believes if the players really want to make a difference, they should come out and see him and the kids he works with every day.

Ward said, "We need every single player that feels passionately about this injustice to be out here on the ground with us.” He added, “And effect change, and allow us, and support us, and help us educate brothers and sisters out here."

Sunday, across the NFL, players on various teams took part in demonstrations during the national anthem. Some kneeling, some locking arms, some not even coming out of the locker room. And there’s been great debate about the message. Is it about the flag? The police? Equality?

Browns receiver Ricardo Louis said, “It’s just about a whole nation coming together.” He believes the message during the anthem is simple. But he also agrees it’ll take more than taking a knee to bring change on the streets.

Louis added, “That’s very important for us to get out into the community and show ‘em what the definition is to be unified.”

Just weeks ago the Browns and safety forces ran onto the field together in a show of unity. At the time, we heard a lot of talk about the Browns and safety forces doing more work on the streets. So we checked back. How? When? City Hall spokesman Dan Williams wrote in an email only a vague statement. He said, “The City of Cleveland, Department of Public Safety continues to work closely on the details with the Browns Organization. When it is appropriate to release details, we will do so.”

The Browns point out players in recent weeks have been active bowling with kids, getting involved with schools and rec centers, and even raising money for hurricane victims.

Fred Ward says work in the streets will always do more than a silent protest. He said, "Hey, we're accessible, just come down.”

Some police officers, meantime, feel the Browns kneeling Sunday took away some of the good will that had developed on opening day. Another example of how so many different people are viewing the actions of the players differently.