An organization of black St. Louis police officers has offered support for several members of the St. Louis Rams who displayed the "hands up" gesture during introductions for the team's game on Sunday.
During player introductions of the Rams' game against the Raiders, five Rams players -- Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Stedman Bailey and Chad Givens -- raised their hands to show support for Ferguson protesters. Running back Tre Mason also put his hands up after he scored a touchdown in the team's 52-0 victory. Last week, white police officer Darren Wilson was not indicted after killing black 18-year-old Mike Brown, who some witnesses said had his hands up when he was shot.
The black officers' statement of support, released by the Ethical Society of Police on Monday, came after the St. Louis Police Officers Association called for the involved players to be disciplined. The NFL has said the players will not face punishment.
The Ethical Society of Police, which is comprised of black St. Louis police officers, said the St. Louis Police Officers Association's condemnation of the Rams' protest did not represent the feelings of "a majority of African American officers."
The Ethical Society's general counsel Gloria McCollum, speaking on behalf of the organization, said the group "completely supports" the Rams players' protest (emphasis original):
THE ETHICAL SOCIETY OF POLICE, is the primary voice of African American Police Officers in St. Louis City, and as such it COMPLETELY SUPPORTS THE ACTIONS OF THE ST. LOUIS RAMS FOOTBALL PLAYERS IN WHICH THEY SHOWED SUPPORT FOR THE FAMILY OF MICHAEL BROWN BY ENTERING THE STADIUM WITH THEIR HANDS UP.
We think that their actions were commendable and that they should not be ridiculed, disciplined or punished for taking a stand on this very important issue which is of great concern around the world and especially in the community where these players work.
The St. Louis Police Officers Association, according to the Ethical Society of Police's release, has a "minimal" amount of African-American members.
The Police Officers Association has since gotten into a dispute with the Rams over whether team executive Kevin Demoff apologized to the organization over the players' actions, which Demoff denies.
- Stanley Kay