The Rams honor the first amendment
On Sunday, Tayvon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens, Kenny Brit and Jared Cook walked onto the turf under the Edward Jones Dome with both hands raised above their head ahead the St. Louis Rams' 52-0 drubbing of the Oakland Raiders. Before halftime, the usual twitter trolls reared their ugly thumbs and, steeped in their ignorance, denounced the actions of the five Rams players.
However, the most heinous reaction came from the representatives of the police.
On Monday, the business officer of the St. Louis Police Officer’s Association, the police union, Jeff Roorda, all but blackmailed the Rams into punishing the five players.
No matter where you stand on the issues unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri, the attempt to suppress the these players' first amendment rights by the SLPOA is abhorrent at best, bigoted at worst.
In the statement Roorda said, “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.”
Of course if even one of the Rams had been white, would Roorda have said the exact same thing? Because incidents like this are never about race, right?
Sports have always been the barometer of an issues’ penetration into the general consciousness.
In 1966 legendary Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown put his money where his mouth was, quitting professional football to found the National Negro Industrial and Economic Union.
Muhammed Ali gave up a world heavyweight title in 1967 rather than enter the Vietnam War. Famously saying, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”
Olympic stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s single black glove salute on the medal stand at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics cost them any hope of ever competing at another Olympic games.
Then for a long time, athletes hid their personal feelings in pursuit of the almighty dollar, leading to Michael Jordan’s infamous 1992 quip, “Republicans buy shoes too.”
Fortunately this crop of professional athletes has retaken the stage and has reestablished the role of the activist athlete.
From Lebron James’ organization of a hooded team photo in honor of Treyvon Martin in 2012 to Kenny Brit writing the simple truth that, “my kids matter,” on his taped wrists, these actions should be heralded as role model behavior. These are athletes who have cast off the charade of the dumb jock and reestablished the connection between the team and the community.
The great irony of this statement is its ability to be as tone deaf as Mitt Romney on the campaign trail in 2012.
The basic demand of the protestors participating in #Ferguson, including the five Rams, is that the police should not respond to the people with the abuse of power.
Yet, here is a representative of the police attempting to leverage his position as a Missouri state representative and candidate for state senate to silence his constituents.
What is worse is that Roorda presents himself as an arbiter of justice, yet, according to the Los Angeles Times, he is involved in the fundraising for officer Darren Wilson and he reportedly falsified police reports to cover up the mistakes of his fellow officers.
The best police officers know that they work for the people. Obviously, Roorda does not have a bit of grey matter between his ears
What we have here is an attempt at a classic First Amendment violation. Here the government attempted to silence its citizens.
The police threatened reprisals because members of a sports team exercised their “inalienable right” to redress the grievances
The NFL, in one its rare good public relations moves, did not punish the team or the five players. Though there is a debate over whether or not the Ram’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff apologized to St Louis County Police Chief John Bellmar. However, given the previous conduct of the department, I don’t believe them.
What is clear is that Roorda should resign as state representative and end his campaign for state senator.
He has abused his power as an officer of the law and as a representative of the officers of the law.
The people of Missouri should fear what he would do with the law in his hands.