“It is important to note," said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams, in a statement, "that the comments made by Mr. Follmer
do not represent the views of the Cleveland Division of Police."
Williams was responding to outgoing Police Union president Jeff Follmer's public castigation of Browns' wide receiver Andrew Hawkins for wearing a "Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford III" t-shirt before last Sunday's game against the Bengals.
Follmer demanded an apology from the Browns, which demand the Browns swiftly rejected
. Williams, too, sided with Hawkins.
"The Division of Police respects the rights of individuals to peacefully demonstrate their personal views and opinions," Williams said. "Mr. Hawkins was certainly well within his rights to express his views and no apology is necessary.”
We're glad the Browns and police leadership would seem to be in agreement
on this one, especially given Hawkins' "thoughtful rebuke
" the following day:
"Support the causes and the people and the injustices that you feel strongly about," Hawkins said in his prepared address to the media. "Stand up for them. Speak up for them. No matter what it is, because that’s what America’s about and that’s what this country was founded on.”
Follmer's comments, and incoming president Steve Loomis' as well
, betokened their willingness to reduce human professional athletes to the level of fighting cock, or, e.g., those robots from Real Steel;
as pure entertainers divested from Cleveland's, and the country's, problems.
Athletes should "stay out of politics," they said. Entertainers should "choose their words wisely."
Hawkins' made clear — and Police Chief Calvin Williams seems to get it, God be praised — that his decision was indeed wisely chosen: that it was conscious, considered, and personal; and that he had a right to make it.