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Sheriff bans off-duty deputies from working Cleveland Browns games following disrespectful National Anthem protests

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FILE – In this Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, file photo, Cleveland Browns fans hold a sign following the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Cleveland Browns in Indianapolis. What began more than a year ago with a lone NFL quarterback protesting police brutality against minorities by kneeling silently during the national anthem before games has grown into a roar with hundreds of players sitting, kneeling, locking arms or remaining in locker rooms, their reasons for demonstrating as varied as their methods. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

An Ohio sheriff has barred his deputies from providing off-duty security at Cleveland Browns games in response to their protest during the playing of the National Anthem.

Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand posted the following memo to Facebook:

To All Employees,

Less than a month ago I was honored and proud to accept a certificate at the Great Geauga County Fair in the name of my uncle Charles J. Hildenbrand, who was the first Geauga County resident killed in Vietnam. The certificate and 50 yr pin was sent to Charles’ sister in California who could not attend. I was so proud to see all of the Veterans that filled the large grandstand. It was truly humbling to see so many proud, brave, men and women from many different wars in attendance.

Yesterday I attended the Browns game in Indianapolis with some friends. The stadium was almost full with 70,000 fans in attendance. During the National Anthem at least 21 Browns players kneeled as the entire stadium, made up of all races, ages, sex, religion and careers stood and removed theirs hats. All the police officers working in uniform were saluting. The fact that the team owners and NFL Commissioner condone this activity very much upsets me. As far as I am concerned almost the entire league disrespected every veteran that ever fought or died for this Country. These protests are not about unity, unity was the other 70,000 fans that stood. I truly believe this is about the Police, Law Enforcement and our government. For that reason, effective immediately any off duty details at NFL Games are prohibited.

We all have hard and sometime dangerous jobs that we work every day. Most people respect and appreciate what you all do. I did not have honor to serve but many of you have, and I thank you for that. I feel we all serve every day as our first line of defense here at home. I’m concerned when the main act stands in front of the crowd, before the game even starts, and commits a blatant disrespectful act towards our flag, our Country, our Veterans and our first responders. If they do not have respect for us and our Country only bad things will come of that. We will not be a part of these activities.

My season ticket seats will remain empty the rest of the season.

God bless all of you, and be safe.

Scott A. Hildenbrand, Sheriff

Geauga County Sheriff’s Office

The post has received mixed reviews on the department’s Facebook page, with some individuals feeling that the elected official is out of line for condemning the players’ constitutional right to protest- and forcing his deputies to miss out on extra pay in order to satisfy his own political ideals.

“Is there a reason you are using your position to advance a political agenda?,” Tina Solymosi wrote. “Hoping you would rise above this and protect everyone despite their personal and political feelings as that’s your job and the point of this country.”

However, Hildebrand’s gesture did garner some support.

“THANK YOU Sheriff for taking a stand to support those who have died, and those still taking care of our country on the federal, state and local level,” John Kloski wrote.

For some, the Sheriff is simply exercising his right to respond to the situation at hand, much in the same way the NFL players claim to be doing.

“Although I disagree with you, I respect your right to protest by staying home and boycotting the games,” Jennifer Jones Hoppert wrote. “God bless you and protect you in your service.”

Situated east of Cleveland, Geauga County is just under an hour’s drive from the metropolitan area and was ranked America’s fourth-best place to raise a family by Forbes magazine in 2008.

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