Police in St. Louis can’t stop adding insult to injury when it comes to the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown Jr. and the decision not to charge Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in his death.
Before hitting the NFL field for pre-game introductions Sunday, five St. Louis Rams players stood side-by-side with their hands in the gesture black men are taught at a young age to protect themselves from police brutality — “Hands up, don’t shoot.” The gesture has become a symbol of solidarity for Ferguson protestors.
Tight end Jared Cook and wide receivers Stedman Baily, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, and Kenny Britt took part in the silent demonstration on the field to protest police violence.
“I just think there has to be a change,” tight end Jared Cook said after the Rams’ 52-0 rout over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. “There has to be a change that starts with the people that are most influential around the world.
“No matter what happened on that day, no matter how the whole situation went down, there has to be a change.”
“I don’t want the people in the community to feel like we turned a blind eye to it,” Britt said. “What would I like to see happen? Change in America.”
Officers in St. Louis, however, weren’t happy with the gesture. Hours later, the St. Louis Police Officers Association released a statement condemning the St. Louis Rams football players, calling for their punishment and citing the “mountains of evidence” released by a grand jury that exonerated Wilson of any wrongdoing.
Yep, they were talking about this evidence.
“St. Louis, Missouri (November 30, 2014) – The St. Louis Police Officers Association is profoundly disappointed with the members of the St. Louis Rams football team who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week and engage in a display that police officers around the nation found tasteless, offensive and inflammatory.
“Five members of the Rams entered the field today exhibiting the “hands-up-don’t-shoot” pose that has been adopted by protestors who accused Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson of murdering Michael Brown. The gesture has become synonymous with assertions that Michael Brown was innocent of any wrongdoing and attempting to surrender peacefully when Wilson, according to some now-discredited witnesses, gunned him down in cold blood.
“SLPOA Business Manager Jeff Roorda said, “now that the evidence is in and Officer Wilson’s account has been verified by physical and ballistic evidence as well as eye-witness testimony, which led the grand jury to conclude that no probable cause existed that Wilson engaged in any wrongdoing, it is unthinkable that hometown athletes would so publicly perpetuate a narrative that has been disproven over-and-over again.”
The statement continued:
“The SLPOA is calling for the players involved to be disciplined and for the Rams and the NFL to deliver a very public apology. Roorda said he planned to speak to the NFL and the Rams to voice his organization’s displeasure tomorrow. He also plans to reach out to other police organizations in St. Louis and around the country to enlist their input on what the appropriate response from law enforcement should be. Roorda warned, “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. 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. Somebody needs to throw a flag on this play. If it’s not the NFL and the Rams, then it’ll be cops and their supporters.”
St. Louis police, your true colors are showing.
To read the statement in its entirety, click here.