One hockey player posted a long explanation on Twitter this week, announcing that “I am done raising my fist during the national anthem,” and said he is choosing to build relationships with the police officers and influence kids instead.
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing J.T. Brown, 27, had been joining many other sports figures in protesting during the national anthem, stating it was to put a spotlight on “police brutality” and “racial injustice.”
Prior to a game on Oct. 7, Brown raised in right fist in protest during the national anthem performance, becoming the first NHL player to do so.
However, two days later, Brown was invited to meet with the Tampa Police Department by Interim Chief Brian Dugan, who invited him to spend three hours at the department’s academy, where he got to witness firsthand the training exercises officers have to go through. He got his eyes open, and now plans to ride along with police and build a relationship with them.
“You see what they go through,” Brown told the Tampa Bay Times. “I have a better understanding, I can guarantee you that.”
In his Twitter post Wednesday, Brown said, “When I began my peaceful demonstration, I wanted to bring awareness to police brutality, racial injustice and inequalities. I also wanted to show that these issues were not going unnoticed by the hockey community. I am incredibly thankful for my team’s support. My teammates, coaches, management, staff and Mr. Vinik were all supportive of my choice to exercise my First Amendment Right regardless of their personal feelings.”
He continued, “Immediately after the game last Saturday, they asked me how they can help me accomplish what I want to be done. I have already begun speaking with the Tampa Police Department. I am going to continue this relationship, even participating in ride alongs. I am donating more than 600 tickets so that organizations like the Bigs in Blue and the RICH house can come to our games. I will also be meeting the police officers and kids afterward.”
Brown explained additional projects he intends to become involved in, to “build bridges and create rewarding relationships,” and said, “I am done raising my fist during the national anthem. I am now using this support, opportunity and platform to call out everyone who agreed or disagreed with me to help by sharing suggestions, continuing respectful conversations, and looking for ways they too can help make a difference in their community.”
The police chief commended Brown for the stand he’s taking, and said, “I never did discuss with him about race and his fist. He can do whatever he wants to do. As a police department, we’ve always been supporting of people protesting peacefully. I just wanted to give him a different perspective. Not trying to change his mind, just wanted to educate him.”
“It’s a credit to J.T.,” Dugan added. “He could have just raised his fist and spewed some stuff in the paper and not really acted on it. He’s probably going to do a ride-along with us in the streets when he can.”
See Brown’s Twitter post below.
Here’s what’s next. pic.twitter.com/IoXeUkacUZ
— Jt brownov (@JTBrown23) October 18, 2017
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