St. Louis police officers want Rams players disciplined for Michael Brown support
The St. Louis Police Officers Association issued a bold statement on Sunday that condemned the St. Louis Rams players for their “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” display during introductions prior to the team’s game against the Oakland Raiders. The association also wants the NFL to apologize for allowing the showing by the Rams players.
The SLPOA statement cites the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The part condemning the Rams players and asking for the NFL’s apology comes in the last paragraph.
Below is the full statement:
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.
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.
SLPOA Business Manager Jeff Roorda said, “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 was incensed that the Rams and the NFL would tolerate such behavior and called it remarkably hypocritical. “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.
The SLPOA is calling for the players involved to be disciplined and for the Rams and the NFL to deliver a very public apology. Roorda said he planned to speak to the NFL and the Rams to voice his organization’s displeasure tomorrow. He also plans to reach out to other police organizations in St. Louis and around the country to enlist their input on what the appropriate response from law enforcement should be. Roorda warned, “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.”
That last paragraph stands out to me in an unbelievable way.
The man who issued the statement, Jeff Roorda, seems to forget that this is America and that people are entitled to peacefully show their beliefs, which the Rams players did. His statement is extremely aggressive and appears to have racial undertones in the end when he talks about who is buying advertisers’ products. It is also politically motivated; Roorda is a democratic representative for Missouri in the House of Reps.
The statement comes across to me as one from a man who has a guilty conscience and who is not being fair.
Want some more background on the person quoted in the statement? Roorda was fired from his job as a police officer in Arnold, Missouri, in 2001, for making false statements. He was behind the fundraising projects for officer Wilson, and reportedly lied about the people behind the funds. He also is against police officers wearing cameras on their bodies.
Bottom line: regardless of your beliefs about the case, this was an outrageous statement to come from the police and it serves to stoke the racial tensions over the issue. Also know that the man behind the statement has a huge political agenda.