CLEVELAND- We’re learning more about a plan first revealed Tuesday by the FOX 8 I-TEAM to have Cleveland Police take part in Browns pre-game ceremonies this weekend, following an uproar over players kneeling during the national anthem. Harsh reaction has poured in nationwide even though players involved said they were kneeling and praying.
Last week, we revealed the police union and EMS union had backed out of plans to hold the American flag before the season opener because players kneeled during the national anthem before a pre-season game.. Then, earlier this week, a police spokesperson told the I-TEAM some officers would, after all, take part.
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Now multiple sources confirm the team and officers will run out of the stadium tunnel onto the field together. Sources say they’ve discussed holding a flag onto the field together too.
The I-TEAM has learned the plans discussed involved 20 officers, 5 firefighters and 5 EMS workers. Members of the military will also be involved.
When the unions backed out last week, it sparked a national firestorm. While the players took a knee, it led to strong reaction and fierce debate. The move was seen by many as social protest and disrespect to the flag, though again, some players involved made it clear later they’d been praying for the country.
A source with the Browns says the team has made a commitment to work with police to improve neighborhoods, and the team has been talking to police about this for much longer than the past week. We’ve learned some players went to Browns management looking for a way to better explain why they felt the need to pray during the national anthem last month.
Players have stood for the national anthem in games since then.
The Mahoning County Sheriff even ordered his deputies to stop working security for Browns games. The sheriff said he had been considering ending that work due to liability, and then the kneeling led to the final call.
Meantime, even as the new plans have developed a group of retired minority police officers said they planned to speak out late Friday morning. Those officers said they wanted to share their belief the police union went too far pulling out of the pre-game ceremonies, and the players have a right to peaceful protests.