Earlier today, five St. Louis Rams players came onto the field in the “hands up, don’t shoot” pose. This pose has been synonymous with protests in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s killing. Needless to say, the St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA) is furious. The group has gone so far as to issue a press release indicating just how displeased they are. It includes this:
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.“
Roorda, in this case, is Jeff Roorda, the SLPOA’s Business Manager.
Although there is plenty here worth exploring – like, for example, how was it exactly that the SLPOA decided that its business manager should be at the front of the line to speak publicly for the group? – the source of the majority of my confusion is this: what would the SLPOA like people to do exactly?
Even if SLPOA (obviously) doesn’t agree with the agree with the (justifiable) outrage at the grand jury’s decision, the SLPOA is apparently proposing that even asking the implied question that comes along with the “hands up, don’t shoot” pose be considered out of bounds.
Here we must remember that the entire point of the “hands up, don’t shoot” protest is that having one’s hands up is supposed to be most peaceful possible position. The reason that “hands up, don’t shoot” ended up being a major rallying cry was to remind officials that Michael Brown was, by almost every available eyewitness account (check the penultimate column here), adopting the most peaceful possible position as he was being shot at. If that stance didn’t work, in other words, what would? Those five football players were asking the same question.
The SLPOA proposes that they be punished for doing so. I suppose that is easier though. Heaven forbid that a group like the SLPOA takes the time necessary to bind itself with something approximating an answer.
Update! I somehow managed to miss the part where Roorda is himself a former officer who was fired after repeatedly getting caught making false claims. I italicized that last part just in case it was necessary.