Tampa Bay Lightning winger J.T. Brown revealed in a statement on Twitter that he has received death threats after he raised his fist while standing for the national anthem before a game on Saturday.
In the statement, Brown specifically noted that his action was not about the military or the American flag, but about “police brutality, racial injustice, and inequality in this country.”
Brown, who noted that he has had “both negative and positive encounters with police officers,” continued, “My @’s on Twitter alone prove why this topic must be talked about. I have received racist remarks and death threats because they disagree with how I chose to raise awareness.”
Brown was the first NHL player to participate in any kind of anthem demonstration. The Lightning’s game on Saturday, their second of the season, was his first of the year on the active roster. In the statement, Brown also wrote that he was specifically hoping for hockey to raise awareness and make a difference:
“I want young minorities to see that what they may be going through is not being ignored by the hockey community,” he wrote.
Brown could be a catalyst for more widespread action, as the Capitals’ Devante Smith-Pelly told the Washington Post said that he, too, was considering a protest. From the Post:
“You look in the [locker] room, it’s only me,” said Smith-Pelly, who like Brown is one of the league’s few black players, and the only non-white player on the Capitals. “You look at all the teams, it’s not people that look like me. That’s just the way it is right now. That’s not to say that the people on the team and guys in this room don’t think that’s the right thing to do, but it’s tough when I can’t look over and the guy beside me knows exactly what’s going on and exactly how I feel.
“That makes what [Brown] did even more respectable. He’s all by himself.”