Sheriff: Don’t watch the NFL

Paul VanBlarcum. (File photo by Dan Barton)

Ulster County sheriff Paul VanBlarcum stirred controversy this weekend with a post on the sheriff’s department’s official Facebook page calling for a boycott of the NFL over the Veterans’ Day weekend in to protest some players kneeling during pre-game performances of the national anthem.

The protests, which began with former 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick last season and have since spread to every NFL team, have inflamed debate nationwide. The players and their supporters say “taking a knee” during the anthem is meant to call attention to police brutality and other issues facing African Americans. Opponents have cast the player’s protest is disrespectful to the flag, servicemembers and veterans.

VanBlarcum entered the fray on November 11, Veterans Day, when he posted an emotional statement in support of the NFL boycott. “If you were ever in combat and were the last person to pull up the zipper on a body bag of your fallen comrade-in-arms, you would never think to be this reckless in your attitude toward the American flag. It just would not and could not be done,” the post reads. “If these fine athletes want to make a real difference without alienating our veterans, rather than taking a knee they should just not show up for work in protest!”

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Van Blarcum said Monday that the text was sent to him by several friends who are veterans, and he chose to share it on the department’s official page.

Over the next few days, the post garnered hundreds of online responses both critical and supportive. Many responses called inappropriate the use of the an official Ulster County social-media account — usually used to tout arrests or advise the public of road hazards and school lockdown drills — as a political platform.

VanBlarcum dismissed the criticism. “It’s the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, and as the sheriff I have control of the content,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing because it gives the taxpayers a way to know where I stand on things.”

There are 3 comments

  1. JamaicaonHudson

    Well, he’s entitled to express his opinion–just as are the football players who opt to kneel. That’s the beauty of the First Amendment. Dissent is an American right.

    That said, I wish this man would stop hijacking the department’s FB page to broadcast his personal opinions. In addition to being extremely unprofessional, it makes him look like a desperate fame chaser…

  2. JP

    Jamaicaonthehudson, I guarantee you are not a Vet, if you were, you would understand exactly what the Sheriff is talking about. My father, grandfather, and others in my family, and probably yours, have put their lives on the line so that we could live in a country like this. My grandfather, from Germany, fought for this country against his own people, would you do that! Hell, I don’t think people like you have the guts to do anything except complain all the time. I would never disrespect them, for the service they did, by taking a knee, wearing my hat, or talking during the Anthem. Do you know why, because they taught me RESPECT! You, and others disrespect the flag, and these men and women, by applauding this kind of behavior. Obviously, your parents didn’t instill respect in you! You were raised in a society that provides free this and that, and you complain you still aren’t treated fair! Way to go Sheriff!

    1. JamaicaonHudson

      JP: I, unlike you, recognize the hypocrisy of Sheriff Van Blarcum’s statement AND his right to voice it (although on his personal page). The beauty of The First Amendment is one that protest voicing one’s agreement It guarantees OUR right to agree and disagree with each other. If you think that soldiers fought and died for a flag, rather than the rights behind it, you’re either idiot or a blatant liar.

      In anycase, you’re right about one thing: I’m not a veteran…However, my father (Army), grandfathers (Army, Merchant Marine ), four uncles (all of my father’s brothers), two gr-uncles (mother side), a bunch of cousins (USCG Academy grad, Army, Naval Academy)…Oh yeah, and my MOM served too. Guess what? They LOVE football (sadly, most are Southern and fans of the Cowboys), and they’re fine with (protesting police brutality by) kneeling during the pledge. I’m sure they’re also okay with your disagreement of doing so–after all they fought for YOUR (and the Sheriff’s) right to express dissent as well… As for respect, I have to be honest, I give back what I receive. So, if you feel disrespected, perhaps that says something about you?

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