St Louis Rams raise arms in controversial support for Ferguson
ST LOUIS // Before trotting onto the field for their pregame introductions, five St Louis Rams players stood with their hands raised in a show of compassion and solidarity for Ferguson protesters.
“I just think there has to be a change,” tight end Jared Cook said after the Rams’ 52-0 rout over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. “There has to be a change that starts with the people that are most influential around the world.
“No matter what happened on that day, no matter how the whole situation went down, there has to be a change.”
Coach Jeff Fisher said he had not been aware the gesture had been planned by the players, all of them black.
The St Louis police officers association says the five Rams players should be disciplined and the NFL should publicly apologise.
The association released a statement on Sunday saying the players’ gesture was “tasteless, offensive and inflammatory”.
Wide receivers Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt came out together first, with the move obscured by a smoke machine in the upper reaches of the Edward Jones Dome. Cook, Stedman Bailey and Chris Givens then came out and stood together with their hands raised in the fog.
Some witnesses said Michael Brown, who was black, had his hands up before being fatally shot by white officer Darren Wilson in August.
Mr Wilson testified to the grand jury that Brown hit him and reached for his gun.
“I don’t want the people in the community to feel like we turned a blind eye to it,” Britt said. “What would I like to see happen? Change in America.”
After Tre Mason scored on an 8-yard run to make it 45-0 in the fourth quarter, he and Britt raised their hands together.
“It touched a lot of us. It added fuel to our fire,” Mason said.
Cook said players have been too busy to go to Ferguson, plus “it’s kind of dangerous down there and none of us want to get caught up in anything”.
“It takes some guts, it takes some heart, so I admire the people around the world that have been doing it,” he said.
Across the street from the stadium, about 75 protesters gathered in the second half as about 30 police wearing riot gear watched from a distance. Protesters chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot!” and “We’re here for Mike Brown”.
The Rams had additional security measures in place for the game, including armed personnel from the National Guard.
* Associated Press
Published: December 1, 2014 04:00 AM