For the third straight week, an NFL game has provided the avenue for protest regarding violent encounters between police and private citizens.
Via The Big Lead, Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins entered Sunday’s game at Cleveland wearing over his game jersey a T-shirt that said “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford III.”
Rice, 12, was shot and killed by Cleveland police last month while brandishing a toy gun. Crawford was shot and killed by police while carrying an air gun inside a Dayton, Ohio-area Wal-Mart in August.
Cleveland Police Patrolman Union President Jeff Follmer issued the following statement: “It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law. They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland Police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology.”
Other players have not been fined by the NFL or their teams for, in the case of several Rams players, the “Hand’s Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture during pregame introductions or, in the case of Lions running back Reggie Bush and Rams guard Davin Joseph, displaying “I Can’t Breathe” on their gear. (The former was a reference to Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri; the latter referred to Eric Garner, who was choked by police in Staten Island.)
Hawkins’ case is a bit different. During pregame introductions, he wore a T-shirt over his uniform. While that may not be enough to provoke a fine, there’s a vague line that a player could cross at some point, forcing the NFL to act. If, for example, a player displays a conspicuous, written message on the field during a game, the NFL may have no choice.