Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown became the first NHL player to protest police brutality during the national anthem.
Brown raised a closed right fist during the anthem before Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Panthers. “I know there’s going to be negative backlash,” Brown told reporters after the game. “But, in my heart, I know I did what was right.”
Brown, one of about 30 black players in the NHL, quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a lengthy Twitter post: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“I love my country, but that doesn’t mean I cannot acknowledge that it is not perfect,” Brown said in the post. “In my life, I have been through more than my fair share of racism both on and off the ice. There comes a time when you cannot remain silent, hoping and wishing for a change. It takes much more.”
Brown said on Sunday that he wanted to show support for those trying to bring awareness to police brutality and racial inequality. He added that the racist remarks and death threats he received on social media after his action prove why the issues being protested need to be talked about.
“I have received racist remarks and death threats because [people] disagree with me because [of] how I chose to raise awareness,” Brown wrote in his Tweet. “We need to be able to listen to those with an opposing view and talk to one another if [we] want to learn, grow and make change.”