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NFL Won’t Discipline Rams Players for ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ Gesture

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The NFL will not punish St. Louis Rams players for their “hands up, don’t shoot” gestures made during introductions before Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders, a league spokesman told CNN’s Rachel Nichols.

“We respect and understand the concerns of all individuals who have expressed views on this tragic situation,” Brian McCarthy, the NFL’s vice president of communications, said in a statement.

The St. Louis Police Officers Association had requested the NFL punish the players.

The gestures, made by Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt, mirrored those made by protestors in Ferguson, Mo., and throughout the country and world after the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed, by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in August.

St. Louis prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced on Nov. 24 that a grand jury would not indict Wilson for the shooting.

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The NFL’s statement comes after a lengthy denunciation of the players’ action by the St. Louis Police Officers Association. SLPOA business manager Jeff Roorda called for discipline from the league and suggested that his organization would continue to pressure the league and its sponsors until it felt its grievances had been addressed.

“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.

“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.”


Rams coach Jeff Fisher and a spokesman for the team said that they were not aware of the players’ plans before the game.

Demonstrations before and after the announcement of the grand jury’s verdict led to clashes between protestors and police in Ferguson.

The Rams, 5-7 and fourth in the NFC West, defeated the Raiders 52-0. They travel to Washington on Dec. 7.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

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