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Cleveland unions refuse to hold flag at Browns opening game

FILE - This Aug. 21, 2017 file photo shows members of the Cleveland Browns kneeling during the national anthem before an NFL preseason football game between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland. Unions representing Cleveland police and paramedics say they won’t hold a large American flag before the Cleveland Browns’ season opener because of previous player protests during the national anthem. The president of the Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees Local 1975 said Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 the protest has upset union members. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, file)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Unions representing Cleveland police and paramedics say they won't hold a large American flag before the Cleveland Browns' season opener because of previous player protests during the national anthem.

The unions' refusal to participate in the on-field ceremony at First Energy Stadium before next Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers comes after nearly a dozen Browns players knelt during the anthem before a preseason home game last month.

The president of the Cleveland Association of Rescue Employees Local 1975 said Saturday the protest has upset union members. Dan Nemeth says he's troubled that Browns management allowed the protests.

A team spokesman has said the organization respects the anthem and flag but also respects personal expression.

The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association members also are refusing to participate in the flag ceremony.

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