Browns WR defends T-shirt protest - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Browns WR defends T-shirt protest

Andrew Hawkins' pregame statement was motivated by his toddler. (Source: WOIO) Andrew Hawkins' pregame statement was motivated by his toddler. (Source: WOIO)
CPPA President Steve Loomis would prefer athletes don't take a stand on controversial social issues. (Source: WOIO) CPPA President Steve Loomis would prefer athletes don't take a stand on controversial social issues. (Source: WOIO)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins made a bold statement over police violence when he hit the field Sunday afternoon.

Hawkins wore a shirt that read: "Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford."

Rice, 12, was shot and killed last month by a rookie Cleveland police officer. John Crawford was killed inside a Walmart by officers in Dayton. At the time of their shootings, Rice had a toy gun in his possession and Crawford was holding a BB gun. 

The Browns released the following statement:  

"We have great respect for the Cleveland Police Department and the work that they do to protect and serve our city. We also respect our players' rights to project their support and bring awareness to issues that are important to them if done so in a responsible manner." 

Hawkins also addressed the media on the shirt's controversy. Emotional, he says his 2-year-old son was the reason he took a stand.

"The thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me," explained Hawkins.

Hawkins says he's not an activist and generally keeps his opinions to himself, but he felt compelled to do something.

"My heart was broken for the parents of Tamir and John Crawford, knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality," said Hawkins. 

Hawkins says being a police officer takes bravery and has friends who are officers. He says wearing the shirt wasn't a stance against every cop and department.

"My wearing the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons to innocent people," Hawkins said. "A call for justice shouldn't offend or disrespect anybody."

Steve Loomis is the incoming president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman's Association. It will be his job to represent officers as the city navigates the troubled waters of police shootings. He had sharp words for Hawkins' display.

"These players gotta realize that they make our job more difficult as a community in making statements like that," said Loomis. "I think it's irresponsible. Clevelanders have gone above and beyond the rest of the nation, the community leaders, the mayor, the police officers in trying to have respectful dialogue."

Hawkins' actions comes on the heels of two other professional Cleveland athletes making a statement concerning police departments and violence across the nation. A week earlier, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving wore "I Can't Breathe" T-shirts during warm-ups of the Cavs vs. Nets game. The "I can't breathe" statement is in support of the family of Eric Garner. Garner died in July after a New York police officer placed him in a choke hold while trying to arrest him. The officer who arrested him was not indicted.

Copyright 2014 WOIO. All rights reserved.

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