Cleveland police chief responds to union refusal to hold flag at Browns game

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A group of Cleveland Browns players kneel in a circle in protest during the national anthem prior to a preseason game against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 21, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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CLEVELAND – A dozen Browns players created a firestorm during a recent preseason game by not standing during the anthem.

In response to this, The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association and ILA Local 1975, representing the city’s dispatchers, EMTs and paramedics backed out of a plan to hold a large flag on the field for the opening game.

On Sunday evening, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin D. Williams issued the following statement about the decision:

Hello, Cleveland,

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. The Cleveland Browns Organization has been a longtime partner of the Cleveland Division of Police, donating and assisting (many times quietly) to our Police Athletic League and hosting events with kids in the city’s Muny League Football . 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.

More importantly, we as Cleveland Police Officers strive to open the lines of communication with all of our citizens–athletes and enthusiastic Browns fans alike. Who are we kidding?! We are CLEVELAND!! And we stay strong together. We stand together.

Moving forward, I can tell you that we within the Cleveland Division of Police are in communication with the Cleveland Browns Organization as we have been in the past. 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.

I look forward to a continued partnership with our CLEVELAND athletes, our community and a great BROWNS season!!!

Chief Calvin D. Williams
Cleveland Division of Police

The unions weren’t the only ones to take an active stand against the action.  VFW Post 3345 in Strongsville posted a sign that says it will no longer televise Cleveland Browns games after the players knelt.

You can read more about this, here. 

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