Off-duty police officers may not volunteer to provide security during the Miami Dolphins game on Sunday because players "disrespect" the United States and law enforcement when they kneel in protest, a police union official said.
Weeks turned into months and over a year has passed since Colin Kaepernick first knelt to protest what he described as racial injustice and brutality by law enforcement in the United States.
The long-running debate reignited in September when President Donald Trump said the NFL players who protest should be fired by team owners, citing they disrespect the flag.
Since that comment, dozens of NFL players have protested in various ways – either to also protest the same issues for which Kaepernick knelt, to protest Trump himself or both. Players have locked arms in unison and some have knelt.
The show of solidarity spread to Hollywood's celebrities and to other sports overseas, as Germany's Hertha Berlin soccer team also recently knelt to support the American football players.
However, opponents of the protests are as measurable as supporters.
"If the players are allowed to disrespect America. If they can choose to disrespect law enforcement, then law enforcement has the right to decide if they want to protect these players," John Rivera, the president of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association told NBC 6. "We as a union stand behind our members."
In a statement to Miami-Dade police officers, Rivera said: "working the game, or not working the game, is a personal choice and has at the very least the same level of freedom these 'entertainers' claim to express."
"The irony of all this is that they disrespect the very officers that are there to protect them, the team owners and the property they own. But, then again, hypocrisy seems to be rampant these days," Rivera added.
It is not clear how many volunteer off-duty officers will boycott Sunday's Miami Dolphins game against the New York Jets.
Even if there are fewer officers on the ground at the Hard Rock Stadium, the Miami-Dade Police Department said there should not be any concern over public safety.
"Any shortfall in volunteer officers does not necessarily indicate that the game will result in less safety," the police department told NBC 6 in a statement. "We are weighing alternate options with our law enforcement and security partners to accomplish the desired outcome."
Carlos Gimenez, the Mayor of Miami-Dade County, chimed in on the issue, saying "The officers have the right to express themselves and they choose. This is a voluntary assignment, but at the end of the day though, we will have the appropriate number of officers there. If they ahve to be ordered, then overtime has to be paid and that's way it has to be and the Dolphins then will incur that cost."