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Sheriff bars officers from working Browns games over anthem protest

A county sheriff in Ohio has barred the department’s officers from working Cleveland Browns games during off-duty hours after players participated in a national anthem protest during Sunday’s road game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Geauga County Sheriff Scott A. Hildenbrand posted a memo Monday to the department’s Facebook page in which he argues players who kneel during the anthem are being “disrespectful” to veterans and first responders, including police officers.

“I’m concerned when the main act stands in front of the crowd, before the game even starts, and commits a blatant disrespectful act towards our flag, our Country, our Veterans and our first responders,” Hildenbrand’s memo read, via Cleveland.com. “If they do not have respect for us and our Country only bad things will come of that. We will not be a part of these activities.”

At least 20 Browns players knelt during the anthem ahead of Sunday’s game. The protest was part of a larger movement in which several NFL organizations participated during Week 3. Players, along with even owners and executives in some cases, took part in some kind of protest either before or during the anthem.

The outbreak of protests of course were inspired by President Donald Trump’s remarks over the past several days in which he argued players who participated in such protests should be “fired,” among other inflammatory statements.

Hildenbrand in the memo also mentioned he was in attendance at Sunday’s game at Lucas Oil Stadium and was offended by the protest and how NFL commissioner Roger Goodell articulated support for the acts that occurred throughout the NFL in response to the Trump controversy.

“The fact that the team owners and NFL Commissioner condone this activity very much upsets me,” Hildenbrand wrote. “As far as I am concerned almost the entire league disrespected every veteran that ever fought or died for this Country. These protests are not about unity, unity was the other 70,000 fans that stood.”

Hildenbrand, who is a Browns season ticket holder, has also stated he will not be attending the team’s home games at FirstEnergy Stadium, either, in light of the protests.