By Ryan Velez
A Black NHL player feels that he has made his statement with a single anthem protest, and is now moving on to community work, reports USA Today. Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown made the formal statement via Twitter. "I am done raising my fist,” Brown wrote on Twitter. "I am now using this support, opportunity, and platform to call out everyone who agreed or disagreed with me to help by sharing suggestions, continuing respectful conversations and looking for ways they too can help make a difference in their community."
Brown is one of roughly 30 Black players in NHL hockey and raised his fist during the anthem as Tampa Bay faced the Florida Panthers on Oct. 7. At the time, he was the first NHL player to do so. As a fourth-line player, he was scratched in six games this season, but the NHL currently has no rules governing player conduct during anthems.
"When I began my peaceful demonstration, I wanted to bring awareness to police brutality, racial injustice, and inequalities. I also wanted to show that these issues were not going unnoticed by the hockey community. I am incredibly thankful for my team's support," Brown wrote in another post outlining his plans post-protest. He added that immediately after the game, teammates, coaches, management, staff and team owner Jeffrey Vinik asked how they "can help me accomplish what I want to be done."
Brown plans to start by speaking with the Tampa police department and going on ride-alongs with them. He also is donating 600 Lightning tickets to organizations like Bigs in Blue, a Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program that connects youth with police; and RICH house, a safe haven for at-risk youth in Tampa.
He is planning on getting involved with Vinik's program with the Boys & Girls Club to help teach hockey and life lessons as well. "I will also help continue to explore new ways to get involved in the community, to help build bridges and create rewarding relationships," Brown wrote.
Brown is also extending a hand to even those who may have disagreed with anthem protests. "I am now using this support, opportunity, and platform to call out everyone who agreed or disagreed with me to help by sharing suggestions, continuing respectful conversations and looking for ways they too can help make a difference in their community."