Brown supports Bills players' right to peaceful protest

Sep 25, 2017

It was a weekend of Trump tweets and player protests. Several Buffalo Bills were among many National Football League players who on Sunday knelt down during the playing of the national anthem, a form of protest that has now escalated following the president's calls to fire or suspend those who participate. Buffalo's mayor believes the Bills organization has handled itself properly in response to the controversy.

During a public appearance in Alabama and also on his personal Twitter account, President Donald Trump took exception to pro football players who have participated in the protest. He referred to them as "sons of bitches" and suggested those who continue to kneel at the anthem be fired or suspended.

A statement released Saturday by Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula.
Credit Twitter/@BuffaloBills

Reaction by many pro athletes was swift, and from Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy it was equally inflammatory. The Bills star referred to the president as an expletive on his own Twitter account.

On Saturday, Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula issued a written statement revealing that they had met with many of the team's players, coaches and other staff to discuss any issues on or off the field and to further unify the team. 

On Monday, Mayor Byron Brown said the Bills organization has handled itself appropriately.

"In our great country, people have the constitutional right to peacefully protest," Brown said. "I think when there are issues that have the potential to divide our nation, to divide people, it's important for people to come together and talk and dialogue in constructive and positive ways."

Like the Pegulas, Brown found Trump's weekend comments divisive. He also suggests the original point of the protests has been lost. Last  year, then San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem to call attention to racial inequality throughout the nation. Many have since translated the kneeling into a direct insult of the U.S. flag and veterans who served and died in the line of duty.

"What we saw this weekend is players, owners, people across the country saying we do love America, we do love our country but there are issues that need to be addressed,'" Brown said. "There are issues that need to be worked on and peaceful protests are a way to bring these issues to the surface so they can be discussed and focused on."

The mayor was also asked about the threats by many to boycott the Bills or National Football League. He renewed his message to come together, rather than go apart.