St. Louis Rams Display Solidarity With Ferguson Protestors
Five players from the St. Louis Rams paid tribute to Michael Brown by walking out with their hands up at the team’s first home game following the Grand Jury decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson.
St. Louis Rams Hands up
Jared Cook, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens and Tavon Austin all participated in the show of support, holding their hands up during their pregame introductions on Sunday night. Brown, the unarmed teenager who was shot and killed by officer Wilson on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, was said to have his hands up in surrender when he was shot.
After beating the Oakland Raiders in a 52-0 win, Cook spoke about the players’ decision to stand with the protestors in Ferguson.
“We kind of came collectively together and decided we wanted to do something. We haven’t been able to go down to Ferguson to do anything because we have been busy. Secondly, it’s kind of dangerous down there and none of us want to get caught up in anything. So we wanted to come out and show our respect to the protests and the people who have been doing a heck of a job around the world,” Cook said.
Britt added that the players were not “taking sides,” but supporting their community, saying, “We wanted to show that we are organized for a great cause and something positive comes out of it. That’s what we hope we can make happen. That’s our community. We wanted to let the community know that we support the community.”
A the entire team and staff later locked arms during the National Anthem as a show of support for St. Louis, and, one can assume, Ferguson, where protests continue.
— St. Louis Rams (@STLouisRams) November 30, 2014
St. Louis Police Officers Association Call For Apology
The St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA) was far from pleased by the players’ actions, which they deemed “tasteless, offensive and inflammatory,” and released a statement on Sunday night asking for a “very public apology.”
“I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment Rights. Well, I’ve got news for people who think that way, cops have first amendment rights too, and we plan to exercise ours,” said SLPOA business manager Jeff Roorda.
— Karmen Ross (@karmenross) December 1, 2014
Roorda also called out the players, calling them hypocrites for taking what he sees as a public stand against the entire police force, while simultaneously asking local police for extra security to ensure riots do not reach their stadium.
“Our officers have been working 12 hour shifts for over a week, they had days off including Thanksgiving cancelled so that they could defend this community from those on the streets that perpetuate this myth that Michael Brown was executed by a brother police officer and then, as the players and their fans sit safely in their dome under the watchful protection of hundreds of St. Louis finest, they take to the turf to call a now-exonerated officer a murderer,” Roorda ranted.
In his remarks, Roorda also called protestors “violent thugs,” stating, “I’d remind the NFL and their players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertiser’s products. It’s cops and the good people of St. Louis and other NFL towns that do.”
The St. Louis Rams have not responded to SLPOA.