An Ohio county sheriff has said officers at his department will not be allowed to work at Cleveland Browns games during off-duty hours because of players protesting during the national anthem.
Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand of Geauga County posted to Facebook to say that players who didn't stand during the anthem as an act of protest were "disrespectful," Yardbarker reports. Hildenbrand recalled a Browns game where a number of players knelt in protest, saying that he was "upset" over the incident.
"Yesterday I attended the Browns game in Indianapolis with some friends," wrote Hildenbrand in the memo, which was posted to the Geauga County Sheriff Facebook page. "The stadium was almost full with 70,000 fans in attendance. During the National Anthem at least 21 Browns players kneeled as the entire stadium, made up of all races, ages, sex, religion and careers stood and removed theirs hats. All the police officers working in uniform were saluting."
"The fact that the team owners and NFL Commissioner condone this activity very much upsets me," Hildenbrand continued. "As far as I am concerned almost the entire league disrespected every veteran that ever fought or died for this Country. These protests are not about unity, unity was the other 70,000 fans that stood. I truly believe this is about the police, law enforcement and our government. For that reason, effective immediately any off duty details at NFL Games are prohibited."
Hildenbrand characterized the protests as disrespect to the American flag.
"I'm concerned when the main act stands in front of the crowd, before the game even starts, and commits a blatant disrespectful act towards our flag, our Country, our Veterans and our first responders," wrote the sheriff. "If they do not have respect for us and our Country only bad things will come of that. We will not be a part of these activities."
Hildenbrand concluded by saying that his season ticket seats would stay empty for the rest of the football season.
NFL players and owners have been protesting after President Donald Trump recently stated that players who protest during the anthem should be "fired."
The protests began as a way to draw attention to injustices toward people of color in America.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b***h off the field right now, out, he’s fired!'" said Trump at a rally in Alabama, according to SB Nation.
After Trump's comments, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that he was proud of how the NFL had responded, Sports Illustrated reports.
Goodell said he wasn't surprised that players had continued and even increased the size of their protests since Trump's speech.
"They reflected the frustration, the disappointment, of the players over the divisive rhetoric we heard [from Trump]," said Goodell.
"We live in an imperfect society," said Goodell when asked about Trump's comments. "A public discourse makes us strong."