NFL will not fine Rams for hands-up gesture

St. Louis' Stedman Bailey, left, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt raise their arms in awareness of the events in Ferguson, Mo., as they take the field Sunday before the Rams' game against the Oakland Raiders.
(L.G. Patterson / Associated Press)

The NFL will not fine the St. Louis Rams players who participated in a controversial demonstration before Sunday’s home game against Oakland by raising their hands to mimic the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture. The image is emblematic of the unrest over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

“We respect and understand the concerns of all individuals who have expressed views on this tragic situation,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email.

Players Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Jared Cook and Chris Givens participated in the gesture and said they came up with the idea on the spot.


Asked about the gesture after the game, Rams Coach Jeff Fisher said he didn’t see it and was unaware of it.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” he said. “I was still in the tunnel.”

The St. Louis Police Officers Assn. issued a statement calling the gesture by the players “tasteless, offensive, and inflammatory,” and asked for an apology from the Rams and the NFL.

The statement read, in part:

“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…”

Quoting SLPOA Business Manager Jeff Roorda the statement continued: “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.”

Brown was an unarmed young black man whose fatal shooting in August by then Police Officer Darren Wilson touched off demonstrations and unrest in Ferguson and elsewhere, which continued after a grand jury voted last week not to indict Wilson. Wilson has since resigned from the Ferguson Police Department.