Cleveland police, EMT’s, and other first responders are refusing to take the field to hold a giant U.S. flag. After the Cleveland Browns took a knee during a recent preseason game, according to Fox 8 in Cleveland.
As the Browns prepared to meet the New York Giants on Monday, August 21, nearly a dozen members of the Browns took a knee during the playing of the national anthem at Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium.
The act enraged many local fans, including a Cleveland Veterans of Foreign Wars post which announced a boycott of Browns games in response to the anthem protest.
Famed Browns star Jim Brown also criticized the protest telling the young players not to “disrespect the flag.” Days after Brown’s admonition, the whole team was seen standing during the anthem at the Browns’ next outing.
However, the return to standing at attention for the anthem wasn’t enough for the local police and EMT unions., according to Fox 8 Cleveland.
The Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association and ILA Local 1975, which represents the city’s dispatchers, EMTs and paramedics, have announced that they won’t participate in a flag ceremony the team had planned to perform for the season opener.
EMS union President Daniel Nemeth said the union is refusing to participate in the planned ceremony because of the players’ August 21 protest.
“This hit home with me. I am a veteran, an 8-year veteran with the U.S. Marine Corps. So, to disrespect the flag by taking a knee is not something I was going to be a part of,” Nemeth told the media.
Police union President Steve Loomis agreed that the team’s protest was too much to take.
“I’m here at a national police convention, and soon as they hear that I’m from Cleveland, the first question is ‘What about those stinking Browns?'” Loomis said. “So if the ownership of the Browns and the league are going to allow that type of stuff to happen, and then come to us and say, ‘We want you to help us with the flag,’ that’s hypocritical. We’re not gonna participate.”
The week before the preseason started, Cleveland Coach Hue Jackson said he was against Colin Kaepernick-styled protests, saying he hoped that his team wouldn’t “have those issues.”
Clearly his players had other ideas, and now the police and EMS have ideas of their own.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.