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The St. Louis Police Officers Association says it’s “profoundly disappointed” with those football players who sent a silent but strong message before they took the field Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt walked onto the field and raised their palms in the air, demonstrating the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture that protesters in Ferguson have been using for months.

Some say that Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, had his arms up when a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot him to death August 9 in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb. Wilson and others say Brown was not trying to surrender and in fact was attacking Wilson.

The football players’ action sparked widespread reaction across social media. Some drew parallels between what the Rams players did and the black power salute by two black Olympians from the United States at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

Demanding an apology

The police association called for the Rams and the NFL to apologize and discipline the players involved.

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

“I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights,” SLPOA business manager Jeff Roorda is quoted as saying in the release. “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.”

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