The five St. Louis Rams football players who held their arms up in the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture first seen on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, have set off a firestorm of controversy. The move, which took place at the start of Sunday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders, drew a sharp rebuke from the St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA). The organization called the demonstration “tasteless, offensive and inflammatory.”
SLPOA, along with the St. Louis County Police Association, met with the leadership of the Rams on Monday to discuss the incident. The two police organizations described the talks as “productive but very preliminary” and noted that they hoped to continue the discussion later in the week. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson also joined in the meeting, and Rams officials spoke by phone with St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.
The “hands up” 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,” said a statement released by the SLPOA, which earlier called on the NFL to punish the players involved.
“We made some progress today and we had a healthy interaction with the Rams,” SLPOA Business Manager Jeff Roorda said in the statement. “We feel strongly that they better understand our perspective and the perspective of the law-abiding citizens that support law enforcement.”
Meanwhile, the players themselves are sticking by their actions.
“I just think there has to be a change,” Cook told the Associated Press on Sunday. “There has to be a change that starts with the people that are most influential around the world.