St Louis Rams: Police demand apology over Michael Brown protests and warn NFL team – Ferguson 'thugs' don’t buy advertisers' products

The players put their hands up to mimic the 'don't shoot' act of surrender

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The Independent US

Police officers in St Louis, Missouri, threatened to boycott the NFL Rams team after they demonstrated the "hands up, don't shoot" gesture before a game in relation to the Ferguson shooting.

The act was described as "tasteless, offensive and inflammatory" in a statement issued by the St Louis Police Officers Association and the force demanded that the players make a public apology or be reprimanded as they claim they would "exercise First Amendment rights" to financially destabilise them otherwise.

Players for the St Louis Rams team - Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt - demonstrated the move in tribute to Michael Brown, 18, who was shot down by Ferguson policeman Darren Wilson on 9 August despite having been unarmed.

The death sparked anger and protests all over the US as well as in major cities such as London and the hands-up gesture, which the Rams team said they were not aware would happen before the game, has become synonymous with assertions that Wilson had no legitimate grounds on which to shoot Brown dead.

Wilson, 28, who was an officer for three years before handing in his resignation on Saturday, did not receive any criminal charges for the incident after a Grand Jury decided on 24 November that he did not engage in any wrongdoing.

SLPOA business manager Jeff Roorda added in the statement: "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."

Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson during his medical examination after he fatally shot Michael Brown, in Ferguson

About 100 protesters assembled outside the Ferguson police department on Saturday night and many are reported by Associated Press to have not been swayed by Wilson's resignation.

One of the demonstrators, Rick Campbell, had said he didn't care about his decision to quit, saying: "I've been protesting out here since August."

Amid a series of protests in the state of Missouri and around the US, around 200 protesters appeared to have shut down three large malls in Ferguson during the Black Friday shopping frenzy.

They took to lying on the floors, to mimic scores of dead bodies, to make their views heard regarding the Grand Jury decision in a peaceful act dubbed "Black Out Friday".