Many people in the country are outraged that a Ferguson, MO Grand Jury failed to indict murderer Darren Wilson for shooting unarmed black teen Mike Brown this past summer. The decision sparked protest around the world, calling for justice and accountability for police officers whose mission is to protect and serve the community, not terrorize and kill its members.
This past Sunday before their game against the Oakland Raiders, five St. Louis Rams players decided to exercise their First Amendment right – showing awareness of events that are affecting their community and support for those who are protesting for justice – by entering the field with their hands raised in the “Hands Up – Don’t Shoot” position that has been synonymous with the movement sparked by Brown’s killing.
In reaction to this simple yet powerful gesture, the St. Louis Police Officers Association, led by Jeff Roorda wrote this via KSDK:
“St. Louis, Missouri (November 30, 2014) – 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.”
“Roorda was incensed that the Rams and the NFL would tolerate such behavior and called it remarkably hypocritical. “All week long, the Rams and the NFL were on the phone with the St. Louis Police Department asking for assurances that the players and the fans would be kept safe from the violent protesters who had rioted, looted, and burned buildings in Ferguson. Our officers have been working 12 hour shifts for over a week, they had days off including Thanksgiving cancelled so that they could defend this community from those on the streets that perpetuate this myth that Michael Brown was executed by a brother police officer and then, as the players and their fans sit safely in their dome under the watchful protection of hundreds of St. Louis’s finest, they take to the turf to call a now-exonerated officer a murderer, that is way out-of-bounds, to put it in football parlance,” Roorda said.
“The SLPOA is calling for the players involved to be disciplined and for the Rams and the NFL to deliver a very public apology. Roorda said he planned to speak to the NFL and the Rams to voice his organization’s displeasure tomorrow. He also plans to reach out to other police organizations in St. Louis and around the country to enlist their input on what the appropriate response from law enforcement should be. Roorda warned, “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 advertiser’s 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.”
With every word I read of this letter my jaw dropped further and further to the floor. Roorda might as well have said, “How dare these uppity niggers get out of place and speak out against us. Who do they think they are? Don’t they know we own them? Can’t they just run fast and jump high and just be happy with what we have allowed them to have…be good house niggers without causing any more problems for us? That’s alright, I’ll put them right back in their place. I’ll write this letter and make sure I put other officers on notice to do the same thing we did to Mike Brown if any of them even remotely steps out of line.”
This attitude by the leader of the police officers association is the very reason why protests have and will continue to happen. The reason why everything and everyone involved in the “investigation” around Brown’s killing should be questioned. Who’s to say because Darren Wilson said it happened, that it’s the truth? The only other person who was in the car and could give an account of the events is dead. If this response isn’t proof that these officers have been given the green light to kill black males without fear of consequence, I don’t know what is. I’m happy that these football players took a stand. Mike Brown could’ve been any of them. Mike Brown could be their brother, cousin, son or friend. When something like this affects you, as this has many people, there’s nothing wrong with speaking up and speaking out. I encourage more football players, who have a voice that reaches millions of people, to take a stand against the events that happened in Ferguson and around the nation. Let suited thugs like Jeff Roorda know that we won’t be put “in our place” by a man (Roorda) who had his badge taken away for violating the very law he was hired to uphold and sees his gun as an extension of his penis. We can and will speak out against injustice. We will be vocal and call for change. We will support those whose agenda is the same as ours. We won’t be intimidated by the St Louis Police Officers Association’s threats, because just as you have a right to speak out, so do we.