With his fist raised high Saturday night, Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown became the first NHL player to protest police brutality during the national anthem.
After taking action, Brown took to social media to explain and defend his position. The forward also admitted that his gesture had provoked death threats from racist Twitter users.
In a note posted on his Twitter account, Brown quoted Martin Luther King Jr. and reiterated that his protest was about “police brutality, racial injustice, and inequality.” He also mentioned that he—like Colin Kaepernick before him—had consulted members of the military about his demonstration during the playing of the anthem.
“There comes a time when you cannot remain silent, hoping and wishing for a change,” wrote the Lightning player.
Brown also wrote that his mentions on social media alone proved why taking a stand was necessary.
“This is about bringing awareness to the real issue [of police brutality] and not changing the narrative,” Brown said.
“I have received racist remarks and death threats because [people] disagree with me because [of] how I chose to raise awareness,” he said. “We need to be able to listen to those with an opposing view and talk to one another if [we] want to learn, grow and make change.”
As NBC Sports reports, it’s the first known example of an NHL player choosing to protest during the anthem—putting the league behind the NFL, NBA and WNBA, along with women’s soccer and Major League Baseball. As of 2015, about 5 percent of NHL players were black. Previously, San Jose Sharks forward Joel Ward floated the idea of protesting but opted not to.
Read more at NBC Sports.