Five members of the St. Louis Rams who entered the field for their game while doing a “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture will not face fines or disciplinary action by the league or their team. The five chose to use the player introductions before the Rams’ game against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday to show their support for the Ferguson community.
Tight end Jared Cook, along with receivers Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens, and Tavon Austin, paused at the entrance to the tunnel as the Rams offense was being introduced. The five raised their hands in the “don’t shoot” pose adopted by protesters in Ferguson, during various protests since Michael Brown was shot and killed by Darren Wilson in August.
The St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA), which is the union that represents St. Louis law enforcement, called on the Rams and the NFL to make a “very public apology,” according to ESPN. A statement issued by SLPOA business manager Jeff Roorda reads in part,
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.
The NFL responded to Roorda on Monday. In a brief statement, NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy said,
We respect and understand the concerns of all individuals who have expressed views on this tragic situation.
After the game, Jared Cook explained why the five made the gesture.
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.
Here’s a report, from ESPN:
Screen capture via: CBS Sports