Three members of Miami Dolphins continued to kneel in protest during the American national anthem before Sunday’s game, despite criticism from their local police.
Safety Michael Thomas, wide receiver Kenny Stills and running back Arian Foster also knelt last week, during the first game of the season, following 49er’s Colin Kaepernick’s lead in protest of racial inequality in the United Sates.
But the local union for the Broward County sheriff’s office, which provides team-sponsored police protection during home games, took issue with the protest. Officials with the union want its officers to stop escorting members until all players stand during the anthem.
“I can only imagine the public outcry if a group of police officers refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance or if we turned our back for the American flag for the national anthem. There would be a public outcry and internal affairs complaints a mile long on that,” Jeffery Bell, president of the local police union, told the Miami Herald on Friday.
“I respect their right to have freedom of speech. However, in certain organizations and certain jobs you give up that right of your freedom of speech temporary while you serve that job or while you play in an NFL game.”
Linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who knelt last week, stood with the rest of the team Sunday.
“Now that the conversation has begun, on Sunday, Sept. 18 I intend to stand united with my teammates,” he wrote in TIME magazine last week.
On Twitter, Stills explained his choice to kneel as an action of solidarity.
“But it’s time for us to come together in solidarity. To acknowledge as a national community, that we have to treat each other with more love and respect,” he wrote.
“I know there are honest, hard working police officers out there … I also know we can do better as Americans at protecting our most vulnerable citizens.”
“In that spirit I will continue to take a knee before games to continue drawing attention to the important issues we face as a society.”
Though the sheriff’s department declined to comment on the matter, the Miami-Dade police – who also provide security for the games – told the Herald they “have contractual obligations with Hard Rock Stadium to provide public safety.”
The union isn’t the only one taking issue with the Dolphin’s stance. Retired Miami-Dade police officer and Miami Dolphin fan Howard Shoelson burned his Dolphin’s gear to send a message to the players who refuse to stand.
“Everyone is entitled to their beliefs,” Shoelson told CBS4. “We have freedom of speech but not on the football field. They’re there to play football. They’re getting paid to play football. That’s not the right platform.”
“When I saw four players not stand up, I turned my TV off I said, I’m not doing this, I’m burning my jerseys. I’m not gonna support the Dolphins.”