The Broward County, Fla., sheriff’s union said that the sheriff’s office should no longer escort Miami Dolphins to games until all members stand up for the national 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,” Jeff Bell, the president of the International Union of Police Associations, Local 6020, told the Miami Herald on Friday.
Three Dolphins players—Arian Foster, Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas—all knelt during the national anthem Sunday.
“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 [temporarily] while you serve that job or while you play in an NFL game,” Bell said.
Foster told the newspaper last week that he will continue to ignore criticism against his protest.
“They say it’s not the time to do this,” Foster told USA Today. “When is the time? It’s never the time in somebody else’s eye, because they’ll always feel like it’s good enough. And some people don’t. That’s the beautiful thing about this country. If somebody feels it’s not good enough, they have that right. That’s all we’re doing, exercising that right.”
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross supports the players who have decided to take a stand against the overpolicing of black communities.
“I don’t think it was any lack of respect. I think everybody here—our team and our whole organization—respects the flag and what it stands for, and the soldiers and everything,” he told the Herald. “But these guys are making a conversation of something that’s a very important topic in this country, and I’m 100 percent supportive of them.”
The Miami-Dade Police Department, which provides security for the Dolphins games, told the Miami Herald that it will continue to do so.
“[The department] have contractual obligations with Hard Rock Stadium to provide public safety. The safety of our residents and visitors is our primary concern,” the Police Department said in a statement viewed by the Herald.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office has not commented on the union’s request not to provide players protection, the Herald reports.