The head of the Cleveland Police Union is demanding an apology after Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a shirt before Sunday's game that read, "Justice for Tamir Rice - John Crawford."
Rice, a 12-year-old boy, died last month after he was shot by a Cleveland police officer who reportedly mistook his air gun for a real firearm. Crawford was shot and killed by police in August while holding an air rifle in a Wal-Mart.
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Hawkins wore the shirt coming out of the tunnel at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland before the Browns' game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Afterward, Jeff Follmer, Police Patrolman Union president, sent newsnet5 in Cleveland 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.
Last week, Browns cornerback Johnson Bademosiwore a shirt that read, "I Can't Breathe," during warmups before a game against the Indianapolis Colts. Athletesacrossthe country have worn shirts with the message in protest of a grand jury's decision not to indict the New York police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner.
Last month, St. Louis police offers were angered after Rams players took the field with a "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" gesture used by protesters in Ferguson, Mo., and across the country. None of the athletes protesting with the shirts have been punished by the NFL or the NBA.
- Mike Fiammetta