Tampa Bay Lightning, locals react to Brown’s raised fist during national anthem

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing J.T. Brown, center, raises his fist in the air during the singing of the National Anthem before the start of an NHL hockey game between the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It was a subtle gesture by Tampa Bay Lightning right winger J.T. Brown. But the time and place are what’s causing controversy.

Over the weekend, Brown raised his right fist as the national anthem played before the Lightning’s first away game of the season.

“If you can reserve these two minutes to respecting the flag and respecting the anthem, I would appreciate that,” said 620 WDAE sports host J.P. Peterson.

Brown joins a growing list of pro athletes combating what they describe as racial injustice in America.

They’re using their national platform – and the national anthem – to make that known.

“Let’s go to Tim in Tampa. What’s up, Tim?” Peterson said during his afternoon radio show, where the topic was front and center.

“I don’t necessarily feel like this is the place to take all of our division and racial strife into the athletic arena. And I think doing it during the anthem, you’ve amped it up to a level that’s almost out of control,” he said.

Brown didn’t talk about the protest Monday, just two days after he raised his fist during Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers.

On Twitter, he explained that he spoke to members of the military before demonstrating.

He was on the ice Monday morning, just hours before the Lightning take on the Washington Capitals.

“We support Brownie as we would on the ice as we do off the ice,” teammate Ryan Callahan said. “He has the right to do that. That’s the biggest thing in here. We have his back just as we would on the ice.”

The team released a statement, saying in part that the organization respects players and their individual choices on social and political issues.

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