Before Sunday’s game against the Raiders, several Rams players raised their hands in reference to the still-lingering controversy that originated Ferguson, Missouri regarding the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
After Sunday’s game, the St. Louis Police Officers Assocation condemned the gesture.
“The St. Louis Police Officers Association is profoundly disappointed with the members of the St. Louis Rams football team who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week and engage in a display that police officers around the nation found tasteless, offensive and inflammatory,” the SLPOA said, via KSDK.com.
The full text of the statement can be seen here.
“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,” SLPOA Business Manager Jeff Roorda said, via KSDK.com. “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 anticipated the argument that the Rams players have the ability to say what they want.
“I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights,” Roorda said. “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.”
For an issue that already was controversial and polarizing, it’s no surprise that the Rams’ gesture added to the controversy.