When Tampa’s interim Police Chief Brian Dugan saw a hockey player protest the national anthem, he decided to take action.
J.T. Brown, a player for the Tampa Bay Lightening in the National Hockey League (NHL), raised his right fist during the national anthem during a recent game. Like NFL players during recent weeks, Brown was aiming to raise awareness of police brutality and racism against minorities.
In a statement on Twitter, Brown wrote, "There comes a time where you cannot remain silent, hoping and wishing for a change. It takes much more."
When Police Chief Brian Dugan saw Brown raise his fist, he invited the hockey player to come down to the police department and get a glimpse of what police officers endure on a daily basis. Brown took him up on the offer.
The result was what many people may least expect...
Lightning player J.T. Brown had nowhere to hide when shots were fired at him during a simulation with the Tampa Police Department. The bullets flying were blanks, but Brown was role-playing as a police officer in the Tampa Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy.
Tampa’s interim police Chief Brian Dugan invited the Lightning wing out to gain some insight after Dugan saw an image of Brown raising his right fist during the national anthem.
“I wanted to know why he did it and what was he thinking,” Dugan said.
Brown was following the path of NFL players who have knelt or sat during the anthem in protest to raise awareness of police brutality and racial injustice. He says after his experience with the Tampa Police Department, he has a better understanding of the dangers police face every day.
During a time when our nation remains divided, it's heartwarming to see this kind of understanding on both sides. It was honorable for Chief Dugan to invite Brown to the police station--and it was brave of Brown to accept that offer while remaining open minded.
With a bit of understanding and outreach, perhaps our divided nation can begin to heal.