St. Louis Rams, county police spar over reported apology after ‘hands-up’ gesture

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Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

The latest Ferguson confrontation isn’t taking place on the streets of the beleaguered city, but between St. Louis County police and the St. Louis Rams — over an apology, or lack thereof.

The brouhaha started silently when five Rams players took to the field Sunday with their palms in the air — showing the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture used by protesters decrying the police shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown.

The St. Louis Police Officers Association was furious, saying the players “chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury” after the jurors decided not to indict former Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson.

A Rams official spoke with police Monday. And that’s when the he-said, he-said started.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar sent an e-mail to his staff saying the Rams’ chief operating officer called him Monday to apologize.

“I received a very nice call this morning from Mr. Kevin Demoff of the St. Louis Rams who wanted to take the opportunity to apologize to our department on behalf of the Rams for the “Hands Up” gesture that some players took the field with yesterday,” Belmar wrote in the e-mail, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

But the Rams said that’s just not true.

“We did not apologize,” Rams spokesman Artis Twyman told CNN.

The team issued a statement saying the organization had “positive discussions” Monday with Belmar and other police officials “during which we expressed our respect for their concerns surrounding yesterday’s game.”

Police took issue with the Rams saying they didn’t apologize and aired their grievances on Twitter.

“Apology: ‘expression of regret for not being able to do something” @kdemoff: “I regretted any offense their officers may have taken,'” St. Louis County Police tweeted Monday night.

The Rams didn’t respond to the digital jab. But others sure did.

“You guys should be more petty,” one person tweeted.

“You’re acting like five year olds. Grow up,” another wrote.

Police leaders meet with team officials

Aside from the disputed phone conversation, leaders from the St. Louis Police Officers Association and the St. Louis County Police association met with Rams officials Monday, the police groups said in a statement.

The talks were “productive but very preliminary,” police said. They are expected to continue later in the week.

“We made some progress today and we had a healthy interaction with the Rams,” the association’s business manager, Jeff Roorda, said in a statement after the meeting.

“We feel strongly that they better understand our perspective and the perspective of the law-abiding citizens that support law enforcement.”

What the Rams players said

The five Rams players who quietly protested on the field — Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt — faced a barrage of questions after their gesture.

They told CNN affiliate KSDK that they came up with the idea just before the game and wanted to show solidarity with the St. Louis area community.

“We wanted to do something. … This is our community,” Cook said.

The tight end said he hasn’t had time to go to Ferguson because he’s been busy with the season and because the area is dangerous and he doesn’t want to get caught up in the violence.

But at some point, “definitely I will be making my trip to Ferguson,” Cook said.

Bailey stressed that the players’ move was just a way to show support for their community.

“The violence should stop,” he told KSDK. “We just want it to stop.”

Austin said Brown’s death and the ensuing violence was “a tragedy, period.”

“There are things out there bigger than football,” he said. “And we notice that.”

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10 comments

  • RegularJoe

    Black teens beat a (white) Bosnian immigrant, Zemir Begic, to death with a hammer recently in St. Louis. Should Bosnians hold their hands up and say “Hands up, don’t hammer me?”
    You’re paid to chase a ball on a field. Just do that and keep your antics at home, players.

    • BJ

      And did you see how the residents reacted? They took to the street stopping traffic with protest. This was okay with me. Did you also see how the Police reacted to the residents with compassion and talking with understanding. If only the Police would have done the same in Ferguson. The reaction of Darren Wilson should have been “hey Big Mike and Dorian, man get out of the street what are you guys doing”. Neighborhood Policing. Police not knowing the residents of the area that you protect MAKES NO SENSE. How do you protect something or someone you don’t know? I am a black male and what these teens did is horrendous and I hope they catch them and throw them under the jail.

      • Stupidisasstupiddoes

        Yes…most of those players were just practicing for life after football. The Policeman that was attacked by a 6’4″ -300 pound man that was being belligerent and then tried to take the policeman’s gun should have reasoned with him? He has a family to go home to and a split second to make a life and death decision. He made it… respect it. Brown was a threat because he made himself one. No reasoning…stop running the streets like wild animals and the police won’t have to put you down…black, white. yellow, rainbow…doesn’t matter. Brown made this happen…stop the racist card and control your communities!

    • MrKrabs

      Exactly. Police with no defensive weapons (like the old British Bobbys). They can talk the criminals into handing over their guns, drugs, and stolen property, and then go home. If the criminals don’t, the officer sacrifices his/her life and the criminal continues to do whatever they’ve been doing during their life of crime.

  • MrKrabs

    Never mind the analysis of the legal evidence by the Grand Jury. If I were selected, I would not know the officer or the “victim”. I might be aware of the social concern. However, I’d go with the real evidence as opposed to the outright lies by non-witnesses. In this case all the evidence proved the lying “witnesses” were making it up based on what they wanted to hang on the officer. Infantile behavior of sports figures only serves to undermine a system of laws designed to protect us from vigilantly mob justice. Do we want to live in a world where accusation is enough to put someone in prison or execute them? Asia and the Middle-East are prime examples of that.

  • Greg

    I would assume the police serve as security at these games why don’t they stop and let the Rams pay for private security. No more police escorts to an airport cut off all ties with the NFL. Let them fend for themselves