A few St. Louis Rams players opened their home game versus the hapless Oakland Raiders Sunday with an imitation of the Ferguson “hands up, don’t shoot” protest.
The initial claim that 18-year-old Michael Brown had his hands up in a surrender pose when police Officer Darren Wilson shot him has been thoroughly debunked. It turned out that Brown had strong arm robbed a convenience store just prior to the August 9th shooting, and witness testimony plus forensic evidence say that Brown was killed after a physical altercation with Officer Wilson, during which Brown tried to get the officer’s service firearm. Brown also charged Wilson during the confrontation, and did not surrender. Brown had also been using marijuana heavily in the hours before the fatal moment. The “hands up” protests now ignore reality.
The St. Louis Police Officers Association immediately condemned the Rams players who mimicked the Ferguson protesters.
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.”
NFL players, like everyone else, have the right to make political statements, though not necessarily in uniform. The Rams organization says it was unaware of the gesture before the game. The NFL may fine the Rams players a token amount of money to rebuke them.
The bottom line, though, is that in the Brown case the “hands up” gesture is built on a lie. Brown’s poor choices — robbing the store, using drugs, walking down the middle of the street, engaging in an altercation with a police officer — ended in his death. It wasn’t racism or police brutality or the militarization of police at work in this case. It was fatally poor decision-making, followed by a big lie.
That lie is causing unrest around the country, and has the likes of Louis Farrakhan threatening to “tear this goddamn country apart” and exhorting black parents to teach their children how to make Molotov cocktails. That is a terrorist threat by just about any definition.