St. Louis Police Officers Association 'Disappointed' With NFL's Rams 'Hands Up, Don't Shoot' Stance
A dispute between the St. Louis County Police Department and the NFL's St. Louis Rams has taken to social media. In a home game against the Oakland Raiders on Nov. 30, five of the Rams' team members exited the tunnel onto the field with a "hands up, don't shoot" pose in support of the Ferguson protesters. For fans and viewers, this was a memorable moment, but for the SLCPD, an apology was the greater topic of discussion.
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) November 30, 2014
In a statement released by the St. Louis Police Officers Association, the organization expressed that they were "profoundly disappointed" in those five teammates who publicly expressed their stance. An excerpt of the document reads: 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." SEE ALSO: Twitter Reacts To St. Louis Police Department's 'Apology' From The Rams On the SLCPD's Facebook, the organization later posted a statement revealing that Rams COO Kevin Demoff seemingly issued an apology for his players' pivotal stance in a conversation with Chief Jon Belmar, but that claim was shut down by Demoff who discredited that an apology was made. "In none of these conversations did I apologize for our players' actions. I did say in each conversation that I regretted any offense their officers may have taken," Demoff said. "We do believe it is possible to both support our players' First Amendment rights and support the efforts of local law enforcement as our community begins the process of healing. Chief Belmar's assertion that our conversation was heartfelt is accurate, and I would characterize our conversation as productive. Our organization wants to find ways to use football to bring our community together." Given Demoff's sentiments, the SLCPD tweeted their definition of an apology:
Apology: "expression of regret for not being able to do something" @kdemoff: "I regretted any offense their officers may have taken."
— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) December 2, 2014
Rams head coach, Jeff Fisher, also mentioned that those select players will not be fined for their actions.