Tampa Bay Lightning winger J.T. Brown raised his fist during the national anthem on Saturday to raise awareness for police brutality and racial inequality.
Brown is the first NHL player to demonstrate during the anthem this season. NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the pregame anthem last year to protest racial injustice, and a smattering of other athletes joined him. The protests have grown in recent weeks after President Trump called for NFL players who protest to be fired, calling them a "son of a b----." But NFL and NBA players have generally been far more willing to speak out about social issues than MLB or NHL players.
Brown told the Tampa Bay Times this week that he was considering raising his fist during the anthem to protest.
"Some will tell you that's disrespecting the military, well I wanted to hear it from someone who is serving, not some person on Twitter," Brown said, according to the Times. "Some thought (kneeling) it was disrespecting, but most felt that we have a right to do it, regardless of whether they agree with you or not, or would stand next to you."
Brown raised his fist before Saturday's road game against the Panthers.
After the game, Brown spoke about his decision with Joe Smith of the Times, saying "I wanted to do something to show my support. There are some issues that we have to talk about. In my mind, I’m just trying to bring awareness and any type of of conversation we can get started would be great."
He also issued a statement on Sunday:
NHL players Joel Ward and Wayne Simmonds recently said they would consider kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and inequality. Ward, Simmonds and Brown are among roughly 30 black players in the league.
U.S. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos famously raised their fists during the 1968 Olympics to protest racial injustice.