Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Stephen Loomis said his officers will not hold the American flag as planned for the Browns' regular-season opener because players knelt during the national anthem during a preseason game last month.
"When management allows you to do those things, then that's on them," Loomis said, per Kaylee Remington of Cleveland.com. "It's hypocritical of the Browns management and ownership to want to have an armed forces first-responder day and have us involved in it when they allow their players to take a knee during the national anthem. That's the very representation of what we stand for. That's why we aren't going to."
A group of Browns players knelt and huddled during the national anthem before their game against the New York Giants on Aug. 21.
"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 Browns said in a statement at the time. "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."
The game came nine days after a car ran into a group of people in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing a woman named Heather Heyer. She had been part of a group that was counterprotesting the white nationalist rally.
Browns players have subsequently stood for the national anthem in every preseason game since their initial demonstration.
"It's just ignorant for someone to do that," Loomis said. "It just defies logic to me. The fact that management was aware of what they planned on doing, that's as offensive as it can get."