The union representing sheriff's deputies in Broward County, just north of Miami, is urging its members not to provide escorts for Miami Dolphins players, four of whom have joined ten other NFL players in a silent, peaceful protest against racism and police brutality during the playing of the national anthem.
The Dolphins' owner, Steve Ross, has also been the only owner of an NFL team to publicly support the protests.
“I respect their right to have freedom of speech. However, in certain organizations and certain jobs you give up that right of your freedom of speech temporary while you serve that job or while you play in an NFL game,” Jeffrey Bell, the head of the police union, bafflingly told CBS Miami on Friday.
Bell may not be aware that, even if there were jobs in which employees voluntarily gave up First Amendment rights, football player is not one of them. It would be fascinating to watch the union defend that statement in court.
Other police groups have made similar warnings. The police union for sheriff's deputies in Santa Clara County, California, where the San Francisco 49ers play, threatened to encourage a boycott of voluntary posts at Levi's Stadium over Colin Kaepernick's protests, but walked back its threat days later.
The same day Bell made his statement denying football players freedom of speech rights, America's largest police union excitedly endorsed Donald Trump for president.
The Miami-Dade police department, which also provides security at Dolphins games, told CBS Miami they “have contractual obligations with Hard Rock Stadium to provide public safety" and will be present at the games.
Sam Stecklow is the Weekend Editor for Fusion.