Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Following a large national anthem protest by Cleveland Browns players, a police union says it won't hold the flag during Sunday's pregame rendition.
Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Steve Loomis told the Cleveland Plain Dealer Friday that the city's police union will not hold the flag for the Browns' first game of the 2017 season. The Browns host the Pittsburgh Steelers at 1 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
On Aug. 21, 11 Browns players knelt in a circle behind the team's bench while five other team members stood with a hand on one of their teammate's shoulders during the playing of the national anthem.
Those players included: Seth DeValve, Duke JohnsonJr., Terrence Magee, Jabrill Peppers, Calvin Pryor, Jamar Taylor, Kenny Britt, Ricardo Louis, Chris Kirksey, Jamie Collins, and Isaiah Crowell, Britton Colquitt, Jason McCourty, DeShone Kizer and Shon Coleman.
The team later issued a statement on the protest, in support of the players' "freedom of personal expression."
"As an organization, we have a profound respect for our country's National Anthem, flag and the servicemen and servicewomen in the United States and abroad," the statement said. "We feel it's important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression."
Loomis called the players "ignorant."
"It's just ignorant for someone to do that," Loomis told the Plain Dealer. "It just defies logic to me. The fact that management was aware of what they planned on doing, that's as offensive as it can get."
Browns players also locked arms during the national anthem during the team's Aug. 31 preseason win against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago.
While the union has made its stance known, the Cleveland Police Department says it's not "boycotting the Browns."
"The union does not speak for the Division," police department public information officer Jennifer Ciaccia told the Huffington Post. "The Division of Police is in no way boycotting the Browns, nor denying participation in events with our officers."
"I'm going to give you the real deal," Brown told the Post Game. "I'm an American. I don't desecrate my flag and my national anthem. I'm not going to do anything against the flag and the national anthem. I'm going to work within those situations. But this is my country and I'll work though the problems in an intelligent manner."
The Browns only have one home game in September before returning to FirstEnergy Stadium on Oct. 1 for another AFC North clash against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cleveland.