September 4th, 2017

The tale of Colin Kaepernick, Rodney Axson and many, many other African American athletes who chose to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceful assembly continues despite the opposition of fans and now local police. Angela Helm, writing in Cleveland Police Union Refuses to Hold Flag During Browns’ Opening Game, Calling Player’s Protest ‘Ignorant’ for The Root, explains:

More police union fuckery.

Cleveland’s police union says it will not hold the American flag during a ceremony before the Cleveland Browns’ first game because some players knelt during the National Anthem during the preseason.

Cleveland.com reports that Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association President Steve Loomis made the announcement on Friday as regards the Sept. 10 game.

As reported previously by The Root, on Aug. 21, a dozen Browns players knelt or stood in a circle of solidarity during a preseason game against the New York Giants, including, for the first time, a white player. They also locked arms during the playing of the National Anthem prior to the preseason game against the Bears on Aug. 31.

According to Loomis, doing so was “ignorant,” even though it was days after police stood by and let black people get nearly beat to death or shot during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Loomis’ statement is offensive and indefensible, and, not surprisingly, not the officials stance of the Cleveland Police Department. Police Chief Calvin Williams issued this statement:

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!!!”

People like Loomis need to be constantly reminded that the American Flag and our National Anthem are symbols of freedom; Americans exercising their constitutional rights to assembly and free speech are actual freedoms.

Helm (and many of the commenters) miss the target, however, when they make the story about unions. (yes, I know, Loomis is the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association). Unions are not the problem. Police circling the wagons against those who threaten their ability to define what is legal and Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III’s determination to re-militarize our police forces are the problem

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