St. Louis Rams players Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt came onto the field in a “hands up, don’t shoot” pose during pregame introductions before the Rams game against the Oakland Raiders at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday. The players made the gesture in response to protests in Ferguson following the Michael Brown grand jury decision. The St. Louis Police Officer’s Association responded by saying the gesture was “way out of bounds.”
Rams tight end Jared Cook spoke after the game. “We wanted to come out and show our respect to the protest and the people that have actually been doing a heck of a job around the world.”
Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt was also asked about the gesture, following the Rams victory. “I don’t want the people in the community to think that we’ve turned a blind eye to it, but to let them know that we’re going to support them.”
Fellow receiver Stedman Bailey said he wanted to see the violence stop in the St. Louis area.
Listen to the three players comment on the gesture (:36)
In a statement released (below) by the SLPOA, Business Manager Jeff Roorda, called the gesture 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. 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’s comments on the pregame gesture (:44)
“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.
“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,” Roorda concluded.