'Hands up' gesture by St. Louis NFL players riles police group

Five St. Louis Rams football players came on to the field for the pre-game introductions with their hands raised in the familiar "hands up, don't shoot" pose of protestors demonstrating the decision of the Ferguson grand jury in the Michael Brown shooting case.

The political statement has been condemned by the St. Louis Polcie Officers Association, who expressed their displeasure with the Rams organization and demanded that the players be sanctioned.

The statement deserves to be published in its entirety:

KDSK:

"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."

"Roorda was incensed that the Rams and the NFL would tolerate such behavior and called it remarkably hypocritical. "All week long, the Rams and the NFL were on the phone with the St. Louis Police Department asking for assurances that the players and the fans would be kept safe from the violent protesters who had rioted, looted, and burned buildings in Ferguson. 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's finest, they take to the turf to call a now-exonerated officer a murderer, that is way out-of-bounds, to put it in football parlance," Roorda said.

"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."

I agree with the SLPOA up to a point; it was hypocritical for the players to be advancing the narrative lie that Michael Brown was just some innocent bystander gunned down by a racist police officer.

But the First Amendment says we can believe all sorts of crazy, kooky things and have that speech protected.  Activist Dick Gregory has been saying for 30 years that AIDS was created by the CIA to kill black people.  It's a crazy thing to believe, but it's protected speech under the First Amendment.  He can say whatever he wants – just as we have a perfect right to laugh at his idiocy.

But having a right to say something or believe something doesn't absolve the players from their actions, nor should it prevent the Rams organization from fining or suspending the players for conduct detrimental to the team.  But in the image-conscious NFL, neither punishment is likely.  The NFL's very public outreach to minority communities will force them to take a neutral stance in the matter, leaving the decision on punishment to the Rams.

What this very public display of ignorance may do to the team chemsitry of the Rams is another question.  The players claim they weren't "taking sides" by striking the pose:

Britt said it wasn’t used by the receivers as an indication that they were taking sides.

“No, not at all,” Britt told reporters. “ ... We just wanted to let the (Ferguson) community know that we support them.”

Two dozen businesses in smoking ruins, a community devastated by "peaceful" protests – and advancing the lie that an innocent Brown was gunned down for no reason is "supporting" Ferguson?

It will be interesting to watch the introductions to tonight's NFL game between Miami and the New York Jets.  The five Rams players may have started a trend that the NFL will have to address, whether they want to or not.

Five St. Louis Rams football players came on to the field for the pre-game introductions with their hands raised in the familiar "hands up, don't shoot" pose of protestors demonstrating the decision of the Ferguson grand jury in the Michael Brown shooting case.

The political statement has been condemned by the St. Louis Polcie Officers Association, who expressed their displeasure with the Rams organization and demanded that the players be sanctioned.

The statement deserves to be published in its entirety:

KDSK:

"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."

"Roorda was incensed that the Rams and the NFL would tolerate such behavior and called it remarkably hypocritical. "All week long, the Rams and the NFL were on the phone with the St. Louis Police Department asking for assurances that the players and the fans would be kept safe from the violent protesters who had rioted, looted, and burned buildings in Ferguson. 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's finest, they take to the turf to call a now-exonerated officer a murderer, that is way out-of-bounds, to put it in football parlance," Roorda said.

"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."

I agree with the SLPOA up to a point; it was hypocritical for the players to be advancing the narrative lie that Michael Brown was just some innocent bystander gunned down by a racist police officer.

But the First Amendment says we can believe all sorts of crazy, kooky things and have that speech protected.  Activist Dick Gregory has been saying for 30 years that AIDS was created by the CIA to kill black people.  It's a crazy thing to believe, but it's protected speech under the First Amendment.  He can say whatever he wants – just as we have a perfect right to laugh at his idiocy.

But having a right to say something or believe something doesn't absolve the players from their actions, nor should it prevent the Rams organization from fining or suspending the players for conduct detrimental to the team.  But in the image-conscious NFL, neither punishment is likely.  The NFL's very public outreach to minority communities will force them to take a neutral stance in the matter, leaving the decision on punishment to the Rams.

What this very public display of ignorance may do to the team chemsitry of the Rams is another question.  The players claim they weren't "taking sides" by striking the pose:

Britt said it wasn’t used by the receivers as an indication that they were taking sides.

“No, not at all,” Britt told reporters. “ ... We just wanted to let the (Ferguson) community know that we support them.”

Two dozen businesses in smoking ruins, a community devastated by "peaceful" protests – and advancing the lie that an innocent Brown was gunned down for no reason is "supporting" Ferguson?

It will be interesting to watch the introductions to tonight's NFL game between Miami and the New York Jets.  The five Rams players may have started a trend that the NFL will have to address, whether they want to or not.