The first player in the National Hockey League has joined a growing chorus of professional athletes taking part in a protest aimed at tackling police brutality in the United States.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown was seen on Saturday raising his fist during the national anthem before the team’s game against the Florida Panthers. It was also Tampa Bay’s first road game of the season.
The 27-year-old is one of 30 African-Americans currently in the NHL, who remained standing throughout the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’
Earlier this week, Brown shared his thoughts about protesting the national anthem with the Tampa Bay Times, saying that he believes it is not disrespectful.
‘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,’ he said.
‘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 had contemplated publicly protesting the anthem over a period of time, saying he had spoken to former military veterans and his family before Saturday.
Players in the National Football League have protested the anthem by kneeling over the past several weeks.
The protest culminated in a massive demonstration late last month after President Donald Trump called players who don’t stand up ‘sons of b*****s’ during a rally in Alabama.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem in the preseason a year ago to make a statement about social inequality and police treatment of blacks in the United States.
Since then, the protest has spread to other sports.
Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell was the first player in Major League baseball to take a knee during the anthem on September 23.
Brown is the son of former NFL running back Ted Brown, who played eight seasons for the Minnesota Vikings.