ST. LOUIS (AP) Before trotting onto the field for their pregame introductions, five St. Louis Rams players stood with their hands raised in a show of compassion and solidarity for Ferguson protesters.
”I just think there has to be a change,” tight end Jared Cook said after the Rams’ 52-0 rout over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. ”There has to be a change that starts with the people that are most influential around the world.
”No matter what happened on that day, no matter how the whole situation went down, there has to be a change.”
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Coach Jeff Fisher said he’d not been aware the gesture had been planned by the players, all of them black.
Wide receivers Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt came out together first, with the move obscured by a smoke machine in the upper reaches of the Edward Jones Dome. Cook, Stedman Bailey and Chris Givens then came out and stood together with hands raised in the fog.
Some witnesses said Michael Brown had his hands up before being fatally shot by police officer Darren Wilson in August. Brown had been unarmed.
”I don’t want the people in the community to feel like we turned a blind eye to it,” Britt said. ”What would I like to see happen? Change in America.”
After Tre Mason scored on an 8-yard run to make it 45-0 in the fourth quarter, he and Britt raised their hands together.
”It touched a lot of us. It added fuel to our fire,” Mason said.
Cook said players have been too busy to go to Ferguson, plus ”it’s kind of dangerous down there and none of us want to get caught up in anything.”
”It takes some guts, it takes some heart, so I admire the people around the world that have been doing it,” he added.
Across the street from the stadium, about 75 protesters gathered in the second half as about 30 police wearing riot gear watched from a distance. Protesters chanted ”Hands up, don’t shoot!” `’No justice, no football!” `’This is what democracy looks like,” and ”We’re here for Mike Brown.”
James Weaver of St. Louis was among the protesters outside the stadium and argued with two fans leaving. They were separated by police.
”People don’t understand what this is about,” Weaver said. ”This is about a young man lying on the street for four hours. People are mad.”
Weaver added that police are ”clicking their boots like the Gestapo.”
The Rams had additional security measures in place for the game, including armed personnel from the National Guard. The team has wanded fans outside entrances all season.
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