The national president of the Fraternal Order of Police tells Breitbart Sports that the “hands up” pose by St. Louis Rams players in solidarity with a “criminal” who assaulted a policeman has angered his membership and the NFL’s refusal to punish the players making the on-field demonstrations shows hypocrisy by the league.
“Our first reaction is that the symbolism of ‘hands up’ has nothing to do with the case of Michael Brown,” Chuck Canterbury tells Breitbart Sports. “If people want to make political statements based on perceived inequities, we support their First Amendment rights. But to co-opt a sign that’s being used to protest the shooting death of Michael Brown when the facts and science have already shown that Michael Brown did not have his hands raised is just not helpful.”
Canterbury confesses that he hears outrage coming from police around the country, “everything from ‘demand an apology’ to ‘boycott the games,’ which is not something we will probably do. Our members are upset.”
The NFL sent Breitbart Sports a vague statement on the matter on Wednesday: “We respect and understand the concerns of all individuals who have expressed views on this tragic situation.” But numerous reports have confirmed with league sources that the NFL has no plans to discipline the players through fines or other means.
“The NFL punishes its players for all kind of other statements, even to the point where players can’t even go to a knee to pray in the end zone,” Canterbury points out. “This is contrary to what he NFL has done in other cases.”
Canterbury sent NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a letter expressing the “profound disappointment” of his members with the league for refusing to fine the players involved or to apologize to law enforcement. The FOP has not received a response as of this posting.
Canterbury’s letter focused on the perpetuation of a falsehood through use of the “hands up” display:
Make no mistake–this misconception is a contributing factor to the violence, looting, and widespread destruction of property we have witnessed. For NFL players, especially those who call Missouri their home, to perpetuate this inaccuracy is just adding fuel to the fires. The use of the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ gesture is not supportive of peace and reconciliation–quite the opposite. The actions of these players is deeply offensive to law enforcement officers, any one of whom might one day be placed in a similar situation.
Canterbury, who spent 26 years as a policeman in South Carolina, points out that despite millions of encounters with suspects every year, police officers discharge their weapons very rarely. “Forty-seven officers have been gunned down this year,” he tells Breitbart Sports. “People who try to take officers’ lives are met with force.”
The former policeman notes that members of his profession gave up their Thanksgiving to preserve order in the St. Louis-area and that hundreds of cops patrol NFL stadiums during games to keep players and fans safe. Though Sunday’s on-field display angered police, Canterbury points out: “That was five players out of 1600 or so NFL players.”
“We hate the fact that Michael Brown lost his life,” he tells Breitbart Sports. “No police officer ever wants to have to do that.” At the same time, he notes that Brown was a “criminal” and “not a victim.” The 18-year-old lost his life in August after a confrontation with Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson that followed a strong-arm robbery of a convenience store. Last week, a grand jury declined to pursue charges against Wilson, who resigned his position over the weekend. The grand jury’s decision sparked violence and looting in Ferguson and elsewhere.
“Their attempt to show solidarity with a criminal is not helpful,” he says of Rams offensive players Jared Cook, Kenny Britt, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens, and Tavon Austin, who entered the field in the “hands up” pose during pregame introductions, and Tre Mason, who made the gesture after scoring a touchdown in the 52-0 blowout of the Oakland Raiders. He holds, “They are perpetuating an inaccuracy that’s fueling the fires.”
Canterbury concludes of the NFL, “We think they ought to educate their players that when they do that they’re perpetuating an inaccuracy.”