The Cleveland police union president has released a statement slamming a football player for wearing a shirt in support of a 12-year-old boy who was fatally shot by police last month.
Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association President Jeff Follmer called the display “pathetic” and implied that athletes don’t know the law well enough to take a stand, according to WKYC reporter Kris Pickel. Follmer also demanded an apology from the Browns because “the Cleveland police protect and serve the Browns stadium.”
Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins came onto the field during pre-game warmups over the weekend wearing a shirt that read “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford.” Rice, who was 12, was shot and killed by Cleveland police last month while carrying a pellet gun. Crawford, 22, was shot and killed in a Walmart while carrying an air rifle.
“[Hawkins is] an athlete. He’s someone with no facts of the case whatsoever,” the statement read in part, according to The Plain Dealer. “He’s disrespecting the police on a job that we had to do and make a split-second decision.”
Follmer also said that it’s “pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law” and that they should “stick to what they know best on the field.”
“[Hawkins] should stick to playing football and let us worry about law enforcement,” he said. “The players don’t know what our job entails. Don’t judge us by what you’re reading in the media.”
The Browns issued this statement in response:
We have great respect for the Cleveland Police Department and the work that they do to protect and serve our city. We also respect our players’ rights to project their support and bring awareness to issues that are important to them if done so in a responsible manner.
Other athletes have made similar moves in recent weeks in protest of police killing unarmed black men.
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