Standing with their hands raised in the “Don’t Shoot” pose to show support of slain teen Michael Brown, five players on the St. Louis Rams made it a point to show solidarity before opening on Sunday against the Raiders.
That gesture has now caused them to come under fire, as the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association (SLPOA) is now calling for a formal apology from the NFL, as well as additional punishment for the five players in question; Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt , Edward Jones Dome, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens and Jared Cook, who are all Black.
Explains Cook, “I just think there has to be a change,” Cook said after the Rams’ 52-0 win. “There has to be a change that starts with the people that are most influential around the world. No matter what happened on that day, no matter how the whole situation went down, there has to be a change.”
Directly across from the stadium protesters came together with chants of “No justice, no football” and “This is what democracy looks like,” as they continue to protest a decision made by the grand jury not to seek charges against Darren Wilson, who has since resigned.
Current SLPOA Business Manager Jeff Roorda released the following statement:
“I’d remind the NFL and their players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertiser’s products,” Roorda added. “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 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.”
Rams coach Jeff Fisher advised that he had on prior knowledge of the gesture.