Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown said Sunday he has received death threats on social media after raising his right fist during the national anthem Saturday night before his team's game against the Florida Panthers.
Brown, who remained standing during the anthem, revealed he had received the threats in a statement posted on Twitter. He reiterated that his protest "is not and has never been about the military or disrespecting the flag."
"It is about police brutality, racial injustice, and inequality in this country. It is something that I as well as many others feel needs to be addressed. I love my country, but that doesn't mean I cannot acknowledge that it is not perfect," he wrote.
Brown, 27, said in his statement that the "racist remarks" and death threats he has received on Twitter from people who disapprove of his method of protest "prove why this topic must be talked about."
"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," he wrote.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
-Martin Luther King Jr. pic.twitter.com/Ql2vEFwl5E
— Jt brownov (@JTBrown23) October 8, 2017
Brown's protest on Saturday in Sunrise, Florida, was the first known demonstration of any kind during the anthem in an NHL regular-season game. The NHL, like the NFL and Major League Baseball, doesn't have rules governing what players must do during the national anthem. The NBA requires its players to stand for the national anthem.
Brown also protested in a similar manner before a preseason game against the Panthers in September.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem in the preseason a year ago to make a statement about social inequality and police treatment of blacks in the United States. Since then, the protest has spread to other sports.