Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams responded Sunday evening to reports that union members of the department would not hold the flag for the Cleveland Browns' season opener because of previous player protests during the national anthem.
In a statement, Chief Williams said, "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."
This comes after CPPA President Steve Loomis said in a statement that the union members, "decided to pull out of the event after [they] learned the Browns management 'supports their players freedom of expression' and that management and their coach knew of and apparently condoned this despicable display."
The unions’ refusal to participate in the on-field ceremony at First Energy Stadium before next Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers comes after nearly a dozen Browns players knelt during the anthem before a preseason home game last month.
Chief Williams said Sunday that the Browns organization has been a longtime partner of the Cleveland Police Department and that partnership will continue.
He also said officers in the department "protect the rights of all citizens to express their views as protected by the First Amendment of our constitution."
Read the full statements below.
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!!!
CPPA President Steve Loomis
As a Veteran of Desert Storm in the US Navy and a 24 year Veteran of the Cleveland Police Department, I was honored the Browns invited us to participate in opening ceremonies. I was disappointed in the ignorance of the Browns players (especially in Isiah Crowell AGAIN) in taking a knee during the National Anthem. We decided to pull out of the event after we learned the Browns management "supports their players freedom of expression" and that management and their coach knew of and apparently condoned this despicable display. We decided we will not support the hypocrisy of the Browns management and some of its obviously oppressed millionaire players.
When the employees of the Browns are on the clock, they represent management just as we do while wearing a Cleveland Police uniform. Management has the right and even the obligation to dictate the appearance and actions of their employees at all times while on the clock, and in some cases while off of the clock.
The fact the Browns management and ownership are unable or unwilling to control their employees negative and controversial actions may be demonstrative as to why the team performs so pitifully on the field year after year. They allow these distractions inside the locker room.
The NFL fines players who "express their freedom" by over celebrating in the end zone, or making a finger gesture caught on TV and that seems to be OK. For the NFL to not take action against these players as well as the ownership that allows the offensive action is a slap in the face to 90% of the law abiding fans that have supported the sport of football for decades and generations.
They DO NOT have this problem in Dallas, St. Lewis and a host of other cities, their ownership sees to that...