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Cleveland Browns rejoin National Anthem protests as 21 players kneel, others lock arms

The Cleveland Browns rejoined the National Anthem protests that have become prevalent in the National Football League, as 21 players knelt prior to their game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday.
Members of the Cleveland Browns stand and kneel during the national anthem before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns resumed their silent demonstrations during the National Anthem prior to their game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday.

Despite a chorus of boos from Colts fans, 21 Browns players knelt on the sideline while facing a field-sized American Flag and several others locked arms in a show of unity during the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

And they did so with the full support of Browns ownership, as Dee and Jimmy Haslam joined more than half of the other NFL owners in releasing a statement prior to Sunday’s games.

“We view our organization, our league and our players as great unifiers of people,” the statement read. “Our players, just like so many others across our league, have been honest and thoughtful with their attempt to bring awareness to the issues of inequality and social injustice.

“We were incredibly moved by the meaningful and powerful dialogue they initiated within our organization when they spoke of their intent to unify and not be disrespectful while using familiar and important terms like one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

Sunday’s protest marked the second time in which the Browns participated in a National Anthem protest.

Several Browns players took a knee, while others put their hands on the shoulder pads of their kneeling teammates in a show of support during the National Anthem prior to their Monday Night Football preseason game against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 21.

The preseason demonstration was the first time since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested during the National Anthem in August of 2016 that any Browns player either sat or knelt during its playing prior to a game.

Following what was the largest National Anthem protest in the NFL at the time, the Browns came under intense scrutiny from the union representing the Cleveland Police Department.

In fact, there was so much backlash that union president Steve Loomis said Cleveland police officers would not hold the flag at the Browns’ home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 10.

However, after meaningful discussion with city officials, Browns players joined members of the Cleveland Police Department and United States military men and women in running out of the tunnel and standing side by side during the National Anthem prior to kickoff.

“Their intent is to create positive and unifying change, and that was demonstrated well by the unity they led prior to our home opener,” the Haslams said. “They have continued to prove this dedication to unite diverse members of our community throughout this past month by establishing direct conversation with the Cleveland Police Department and creating a plan to work together in our neighborhoods. We are also proud of their many other significant efforts in our city throughout the year that are done quietly to improve the lives of others.”