Hands Up, Don't Apologize: St. Louis Rams, County Police Squabble Over Non-Apology

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Jon Belmar, chief of the St. Louis County Police, says the Rams apologized. - JESSICA LUSSENHOP
  • Jessica Lussenhop
  • Jon Belmar, chief of the St. Louis County Police, says the Rams apologized.

Did St. Louis Rams VP Kevin Demoff apologize to St. Louis County Police for the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" gesture at Sunday's game? Depends on whom you ask.

Police say yes, he apologized. That's because Demoff called county police chief Jon Belmar Monday after five Rams players took the field before the game against the Oakland Raiders with their hands raised, a symbol that has come to represent Michael Brown surrendering to Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson before being fatally shot in August.

Belmar emailed his staff: "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 said Demoff regretted the players' actions, adding that he believed Demoff's "apology" was heartfelt.

See also: Rams Players Support Ferguson with "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" Entrance at Raiders Game

That's when things got petty.

Demoff denies that his Monday phone call to Belmar was an apology. Instead, he was just expressing regret.

"I felt badly that our players' support of the community was taken as disrespectful to law enforcement," Demoff tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, later adding, "In none of these conversations did I apologize for our players' actions. I did say in each conversation that I regretted any offense their officers may have taken." St. Louis County Police balked at Demoff's statement that his apology was a non-apology, so they did the only mature thing: They wrote about it on Facebook...
...and Twitter: The five players who started this digital tiff between the Rams and police won't be punished for their gesture, which they've said wasn't intended to be anti-police. That's why Demoff can't officially "apologize" to the Rams -- because he's trying to support the players' First Amendment right to free speech. But that doesn't mean Demoff or the police have to be mature about all this:

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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