Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson of the Dolphins took a knee, and Robert Quinn stood with a fist raised during the anthem that preceded the team’s preseason opener Thursday night.
“It’s a slap in the face,” Broward County Police Benevolent Association Vice President Rod Skirvin told the Miami Herald on Saturday. “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.”
NFL players have long made the distinction that the protests have nothing to do with the military, with the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers making that case last week.
“I don’t know how many times we can say, as a player and as a group, how much we love and support and appreciate the troops, and the opportunities this country allows us,” he said. “But this is about equality and something bigger than ourselves, and bringing people together, and love and connectedness and equality and social justice, and putting a light on people who deserve to have the attention for their causes and their difficult situations that they’re in. You know, people have their opinion — you shouldn’t do it during the anthem, you shouldn’t do it during this — that’s fine. But let’s not take away from what the real issue is.”
In a Facebook post, the Broward County PBA urged its members to boycott a partnership that offered members discounts to games, an agreement it said was predicated on an “understanding that the Dolphins organization would require their players to stand” for the anthem.
The Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association echoed that on Facebook.
Although the Dolphins had initially threatened to suspend players who take a knee, owner Stephen Ross had called that policy a “placeholder.” Although owners unilaterally imposed a policy of fining teams for players who protest, the NFL and NFLPA are trying to find common ground in a policy, with the season opener set for Sept. 6.
When Colin Kaepernick, then the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback, started kneeling, the Santa Clara Police Officers Association threatened a boycott of another sort, saying it might stop working security at games. The organization, the lead police agency at Levi’s Stadium, supplies around 70 officers who volunteer to work and are paid as security personnel. The police chief urged members to back off their threat.
Unions also were vocal after shootings in 2014. When Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a shirt demanding justice for Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy shot and killed by police, the president of the police union in Cleveland called it “pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law” and demanded an apology. The Browns responded that the team respects both police and players’ right to peaceful protest. That same month, the St. Louis police union demanded an apology when Rams players made a “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Last season, Stills, along with then-teammates Michael Thomas and Julius Thomas, took a knee until Miami Coach Adam Gase allowed players to remain in the locker room for the anthem. Michael Thomas is now with the New Orleans Saints, and Julius Thomas is a free agent.
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