Just a month away from the National Football League’s regular season, players from the Miami Dolphins defied the league’s new policy and knelt during the national anthem in their pre-season opener game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
As a result of their peaceful protest, two police unions in South Florida are now encouraging their members to not buy Dolphin tickets or seek a refund as it believed the demonstrations was a “slap in the face.”
“We have a lot of police officers in the county who are ex-military. It’s not just a slap in the face to our military — past and present — but to all law enforcement officers across the country. As long as the protest continues, we will protest our attendance at the Dolphins games and continue to stay away from the NFL and its products,” Broward County Police Benevolent Association Vice President Rod Skirvin told the Miami Herald.
The union also posted a statement on its Facebook account making it pretty clear they don’t approve of players’ on-field protests.
"The Palm Beach County PBA recently offered our members discounts to a Miami Dolphins game because the franchise said they were going to honor all first responders. We entered into this partnership with the understanding that the Dolphins organization would require their players to stand for the National Anthem. This did not happen,” the statement said.
"As a result, the Palm Beach County PBA will no longer participate in this ticket program, and we are asking all our members, as well (as) members of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association and the Broward County Police Benevolent Association, not to participate either. If you have already purchased tickets to this game, we encourage you to call the Dolphins ticket office to request a refund because this organization obviously does not honor First Responders and the dangers they put themselves in every day," it added.
In a recent game, Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson of the Dolphins took a knee, while teammate Robert Quinn held his fist in the air during the national anthem.
“It just happened that way,” Stills said after the game. “When I’m on a knee, most of the time I’m praying, and thank God for having Albert next to me. Being a part of this protest hasn’t been easy. I thought I was going to be by myself out there. Today I had an angel with me with Albert being out there. I’m grateful he sees what’s happening, and he wants to do something about it as well.”
Although the Dolphins had initially threatened to penalize players for taking a knee, owner Stephen Ross later said he would not force his team to stand.
However, it isn’t the first time police unions have expressed their disagreement with such demonstrations.
Last year, Cleveland police officers said they wouldn’t hold the country’s flag after a group of players knelt during the anthem.
In 2014, St. Louis complained about some players who raised their hands in “don’t shoot” gesture after African-American teen Michael Brown was shot dead by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
President Donald Trump, who has often ranted and raved about his desire to kick protesting players out of the country, weighed in again on Twitter after the latest protest.
"The NFL players are at it again - taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define," he tweeted.
The union’s latest decision to boycott the games seems an ill-concealed attempt to pressurize players to quit speaking up against social injustice.
Banner Image Credits: Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images