NFL players aren’t the only ones taking a stand (or a knee) against racial injustice. Over the weekend, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s J.T. Brown became the first NHL player to protest during the national anthem by raising a clenched fist in the air before Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers.
Brown’s protest was seemingly done in a show of solidarity with NFL players, other athletes and activists who have protested in recent weeks by taking a knee, locking arms or simply raising a fist. Former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew backlash after he began kneeling last season to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America.
In a sport dominated by white Americans and Canadians, Brown is just one of six Black players in the NHL, according to ABC 15. The 27-year-old wrote in a post on his Twitter account Saturday that he has faced racist remarks and even death threats following his protest and acknowledged he knew his actions might spark negative reactions.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-Martin Luther King Jr. pic.twitter.com/Ql2vEFwl5E
— JT Brown (@JTBrown23) October 8, 2017
“I also wanted to reiterate that this is not nor has never been about the military or disrespecting the flag,” Brown wrote. “It is about police brutality, racial injustice, and inequality in this country. It is something that I as well as many others feels needs to be addressed.”
This isn’t the first time the hockey player has raised his fist, however.
Yahoo Sports reported that he did the same gesture on Sept. 28 during a preseason game against the Florida Panthers. Speaking with the Tampa Bay Times, Brown explained that the fist was a “middle ground for those who say kneeling for the anthem disrespects the flag.”
The Tampa Bay Lightning hasn’t released a statement on Brown’s protest.