Police Call for St Louis Rams Players to be “Disciplined” for Making Hands-Up Gesture
A Missouri police union has condemned players from the St Louis Rams football team for making “hands-up” gestures on the field in solidarity with Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old shot dead in Ferguson, and has threatened to boycott NFL advertisers in response.
The St Louis Police Officers Association claimed that officers found the actions of Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Tre Mason to be “tasteless, offensive and inflammatory”, and demanded that they be disciplined.
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Five of the players emerged for their game against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday with their hands aloft, a gesture used by protesters who claim that Brown was surrendering when he was shot dead by officer Darren Wilson on 9 August.
Last week a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson.
“It touched a lot of us, it added fuel to our fire,” Mason, who raised his hands following a fourth-quarter touchdown, told the Associated Press after the Rams’ 52-0 win.
Britt said: “I don’t want the people in the community to feel like we turned a blind eye to it.”
Cook added: “I just think there has to be a change.”
Jeff Roorda, the police union’s business manager and a fundraiser for Wilson, said in a statement on Sunday that “it was unthinkable that hometown athletes would so publicly perpetuate a narrative that has been disproven over and over again”.
After months of protests over Brown’s shooting, the grand jury’s long-awaited decision led to a night of rioting and looting.
Prosecutors said some witnesses disputed earlier claims that Brown had his hands up after fleeing a struggle at Wilson’s SUV following the officer stopping him for jaywalking.
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Calling for the Rams and NFL to apologise publicly, Roorda said in his statement that he understood the players would be defended as merely exercising their right to free speech.
However, he added: “Cops have first amendment rights too, and we plan to exercise ours.
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“I’d remind the NFL and their players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertisers’ products,” he said. “It’s cops and the good people of St Louis and other NFL towns that do.”
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