As noted in A.M. Links this morning, St. Louis County police chief Jon Belmar is claiming that the NFL Rams have apologized for players who made a "hands up" gesture in solidarity with Michael Brown before Sunday's game. A spokesman for the Rams says Belmar is wrong.
"I expressed regret for any perceived disrespect of law enforcement," [spokesman Kevin] Demoff said. "Our players' goal was to show support for positive change in our community. I do believe that supporting our players' First Amendment rights and supporting local law enforcement are not mutually exclusive."
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said county chief Jon Belmar told his staff by email Monday night that Demoff had apologized. The email said Demoff "clearly regretted that any members of the Rams organization would act in a way that minimized the outstanding work that police officers carry out each and every day."
CNN has a slight variation on the story:
"I received a very nice call this morning from Mr. Kevin Demoff of the St. Louis Rams who wanted to take the opportunity to apologize to our department on behalf of the Rams for the "Hands Up" gesture that some players took the field with yesterday," Belmar wrote in the e-mail, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
But the Rams said that's just not true.
"We did not apologize," Rams spokesman Artis Twyman told CNN.
The official St. Louis County Police Department Twitter feed posted this:
The replies to that tweet are something to behold: "that doesn't prove your point!"; "That's fine, but Chief Belmar stated he specifically apologized for the players gesture. That's different"; "Wow. You guys are really reaching…"; "oh shut the fuck up"; "arguing semantics is always a sign that you're in the right."; and more.
And the players who made the gesture?
"We just understand that it's a big tragedy and we hope something positive comes out of it," [Stedman] Bailey said, following his five catch 100-yard performance.
Added [Jared] Cook: "We help build up the people around this community daily with our visiting schools and talking to kids, so coming out and showing that we're unified with the rest of them, it was key to us."
Rams' head coach Jeff Fisher said it was the players' "choice to exercise their free speech" and he won't be commenting further on the matter.
At 5-7, the Rams have enough to apologize for. Protesting events in Ferguson—especially the over-reaction of cops to peaceful demonstrators and the larger militarization of police around the country—isn't one of them.
And whether you agree with me on that, there's no question that the police are not exactly helping their already-damaged credibility with this latest back-and-forth.
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