(ST. LOUIS) — Representatives from the St. Louis Police Officers Association and the St. Louis County Police Association met on Monday with leadership from the St. Louis Rams football team after police organizations had criticized some Rams players for displaying a gesture referencing the Michael Brown shooting.
Prior to Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders, a handful of Rams players entered the field giving the “hands-up-don’t-shoot” gesture popularized by protesters in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting death at the hands of St. Louis-area police officer Darren Wilson.
The talks were called “productive but very preliminary,” by police representatives. SLPOA Business Manager Jeff Roorda, who criticized the Rams players on Sunday, said that he believes “they better understand our perspective and the perspective of the law-abiding citizens that support law enforcement.”
On Sunday, Roorda had said that, “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 advertisers’ 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.”
On Monday it was announced that the Rams players would not face fines from the team or the NFL for the display.
The Fraternal Order of Police wrote a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday, expressing, “profound disappointment with the recent decision of the [NFL] not to discipline or apologize for the actions of some St. Louis Rams players who took the field on Sunday using the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ gesture employed by those deluded individuals who believe that Michael Brown was deliberately shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson.”
Despite the ubiquity of the “hands-up” gesture in protests of the shooting, a grand jury agreed with forensic evidence and Wilson’s own testimony that Brown was attacking, not surrendering at the time he was shot.
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