The organization released a statement Sunday afternoon expressing their commitment to stand up for justice, speak out against inequality, and end violence.
“It is very appropriate that we are at home right now. It is also very appropriate that we have our family here with us [in the stands] because this is our Browns family right here. This family has some things that are weighing very heavily on their hearts, and I want our players, who are so mindful and so intentional about their thoughts, to share those with this this city, this community, Northeast Ohio and football world,” Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said before the players read their statement.
The statement from players on behalf of the Cleveland Browns said:
“We stand in solidarity with all the people within our country who are making the commitment, effort and sacrifice necessary to demand and work towards positive change for the Black community. Over the last five days, our team has elevated our engagement on important, deep dialogue that began earlier this offseason. We have expressed frustration, anger and dismay over the continued struggles and tragedy that are rooted in racism. It has to stop. While we understand and appreciate our unique platform to raise awareness, we believe it is the duty of every American to peacefully stand up, speak out and address injustice, especially those resulting from racial inequities and ending in violence as in the cases of Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, David Dorn, Rayshard Brooks, Jacob Blake and far too many others. We cannot be comfortable with any more sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and beloved family members being added to this list. Bringing light and awareness to these issues and incidents is an important first step, but that alone is not nearly enough and for true, meaningful change; it comes down to the actions we take. The players on this team along with the support of ownership and the entire Browns organization are committed to action to Be The Solution.
Through thoughtful dialogue with the Players Coalition, we have identified the following areas we will work on to become an instrument for change: 1) Education – expand on the work of the Cleveland Browns Foundation by improving resource equity and focusing on closing the digital divide; 2) Police Reform and Accountability – engage law enforcement and elected officials to better understand why cops who abuse their power and commit crimes are not arrested and found guilty, support legislation that ends qualified immunity, holds law enforcement accountable and addresses the topic of standardized police training and oversight while also supporting the noble police officers who honorably fulfill their roles by properly serving their community; 3) Economic Advancement and Community Support – continue our work to positively impact underserved, primarily black neighborhoods by empowering the community through supporting black-owned businesses, improving neighborhood interconnectivity and unity, and helping with basic necessities like food, clothing and shelter; 4) Non-Partisan Voter Registration, Education and Turn Out – help eliminate voter suppression, encourage everyone, starting with ourselves, to actively participate in the democratic process through voting while educating and encouraging our community to take action and participate.
You will see a specific focus in the form of concrete action by our organization, players, staff and ownership in these areas within Cleveland and Northeast Ohio to spur positive, necessary change. This work is critical and we encourage everyone to join us in addressing these issues that continue to hold the Black community and our entire nation back from fully realizing the ideals it was founded upon: equal rights and justice for all.”
Several teams across various sporting leagues have also taken a stand against racial inequality and police brutality.
The National Basketball League postponed all playoff games Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks announced their decision not to play Game 5 against the Orlando Magic in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin. The playoff series resumed Saturday.
The Brewers, Milwaukee’s Major League Baseball team, followed the lead of the Bucks and also chose not play Wednesday night as a demonstration following the shooting of Blake. That same day the Seattle Mariners and Padres in San Diego were also called off hours before they were set to begin.
Additionally, the National Hockey League postponed four Stanley Cup playoff games scheduled for Thursday and Friday after players on all eight remaining teams decided not to play in demostration.
Demonstrations, such as kneeling during the national anthem, have taken place at various sporting events over the past few years. Recent incidents of racial injustice and police brutality have seemingly increased the frequency of these demonstrations.