St. Louis Police Claim It's Their 'First Amendment' Rights Not To Protect Football Players Who Supported Protestors

from the time-for-a-lesson-in-the-first-amendment dept

It’s been pretty obvious that law enforcement in the St. Louis area has a rather tenuous grasp on the concept of the First Amendment. Obviously, they’ve done a fairly terrible job recognizing the right to “peaceably assemble” for quite some time, even having a court declare its “5 second rule” approach unconstitutional. They’ve also ignored the freedom of the press by repeatedly arresting journalists. And, remember, the local prosecutor has claimed that it was really all those people speaking out on social media who were to blame.

But it appears that the misunderstanding of the First Amendment has been taken to new, and even more ridiculous levels, following a brief show of support for the protestors by some players for the St. Louis Rams (the local NFL football franchise for you non-sportsball people). The Rams’ wide receivers decided to all put their hands up — the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture — in support of Michael Brown and the protestors. It’s a small, but meaningful gesture, showing they supported the protestors. And it shouldn’t have been taken as anything more than that.

Instead, the St. Louis County police decided to respond… by suggesting that, because of this, the police would no longer protect the Rams. Here’s the statement from the St. Louis Police Officers Association, quoting Jeff Roorda, the group’s spokesperson, and a local politician (and ex-cop):

Roorda was incensed that the Rams and the NFL would tolerate such behavior and called it remarkably hypocritical. “All week long, the Rams and the NFL were on the phone with the St. Louis Police Department asking for assurances that the players and the fans would be kept safe from the violent protesters who had rioted, looted, and burned buildings in Ferguson. Our officers have been working 12 hour shifts for over a week, they had days off including Thanksgiving cancelled so that they could defend this community from those on the streets that perpetuate this myth that Michael Brown was executed by a brother police officer and then, as the players and their fans sit safely in their dome under the watchful protection of hundreds of St. Louis’s finest, they take to the turf to call a now-exonerated officer a murderer, that is way out-of-bounds, to put it in football parlance,” Roorda said.

“The SLPOA is calling for the players involved to be disciplined and for the Rams and the NFL to deliver a very public apology. Roorda said he planned to speak to the NFL and the Rams to voice his organization’s displeasure tomorrow. He also plans to reach out to other police organizations in St. Louis and around the country to enlist their input on what the appropriate response from law enforcement should be. Roorda warned, “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.”

As many have noted, this certainly sounds like Roorda saying that it’s the police’s “First Amendment” rights to look the other way should any threats come to the team or the stadium. Update: In the comments, many are arguing that this comment does not reflect the intent not to protect the Rams any more, but rather just to boycott the merchandise offered by advertisers. That’s a reasonable interpretation of the comments, though it still seems like he’s implying something deeper — actually involving police response. Note the claim that Roorda is going to speak to other police forces on an “appropriate response..” Separately, Roorda specifically calls out the fact that the Rams had asked police for extra protection, which certainly implies that police would not be as interested in doing so if players keep supporting protestors. It seems clear to me — though, clearly not to others — that Roorda is suggesting that if you state a position that the police disagree with, the police will look for ways to punish you. That’s troubling.

Of course, that’s not how the First Amendment actually works. It’s quite the opposite. As Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post points out, the reality is exactly the opposite. The First Amendment protects the public from government officials (including the police) from taking actions based on expression of members of the public. If anything, Roorda’s implied threat violates the First Amendment, suggesting that the government will punish people for their expression.

To begin with, the First Amendment only protects free speech against government action. That?s all it does. It doesn?t protect the St. Louis players from NFL owners, or league commissioners, or talk radio hosts who disagree with them. But it does protect them from the government. So the person in danger of abusing the First Amendment here is not the football player with the edgy gesture in a public stadium. Or the NFL owner who might want to tell them to shut up to protect advertising. It?s the governmental agent ? like, say, a cop ? who seeks to punish someone for expressing certain views.

Of course, the First Amendment now also protects the press digging into Jeff Roorda’s own background and reporting what they find. Like the time he was reprimanded for trying “to ‘cover’ for another police officer filing a report that contained false statements.” Or how he’s against body cameras because they “sometimes don’t reflect exactly what happened” and saying that “cameras have been bad for law enforcement” because “it causes second guessing by the courts and the media.” Roorda has also defended an officer who a surveillance video showed was assaulting a handcuffed suspect, claiming the officer was “only defending himself” and saying he was doing “as he’s trained to do.”

In fact, we actually wrote about that last story and posted the video. You can see it here:

As we noted at the time, Roorda then lied about what’s in the video. Roorda claimed that the officer was crouched down and the suspect started moving forward at him. But the video shows no such thing. Roorda further claimed that such videos should only be used when it helps the police view of things.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis County Police still seem to think that their First Amendment rights include pretending that the Rams apologized to them when they did not. The official Twitter feed and Facebook feed have both tried to argue that the Rams’ COO, Kevin Demoff apologized to the police for the players’ actions. On Facebook, they admit that Demoff didn’t really apologize, but they still took it as an apology — and then on Twitter tried to suggest that regretting “any offense that… officers may have taken” was actually an apology, based on their tortured reading of the dictionary:

Except, of course, most people recognize that a “I’m sorry if anyone was offended” is not really an apology, and here it appears that Demoff didn’t even go that far. But, still, the St. Louis police want to claim it was an apology. And, I guess, they believe that’s their First Amendment right to misrepresent what was actually said to them…

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,
Companies: st. louis rams

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “St. Louis Police Claim It's Their 'First Amendment' Rights Not To Protect Football Players Who Supported Protestors”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
129 Comments
TheResidentSkeptic says:

I suggest he read his departments website:

Our Philosophy
The Metropolitan Police Department, City of St. Louis strives to provide the best possible police service to the citizens of St. Louis. Our Mission Statement and Core Values serve as guides for the work we do everyday to protect those who live, work and visit the City of St. Louis.

Core Values
Service, Integrity, Leadership, and Fair Treatment to All

Our Mission
The mission of the Metropolitan Police Department, City of St. Louis is to protect, serve and assist citizens when conditions arise that may affect the well-being of the individual or the community. Cooperating with others in the community, officers will work to prevent and detect crime, protect life and property, and achieve a peaceful society, free from the fear of crime and disorder. Members of the Department will strive continually for excellence and maintain the peace through service, integrity, leadership and fair treatment to all.

A Statement on the Value of Human Life
The primary responsibility of this Department and each of its members is to protect the lives of the citizens we are sworn to serve. It is also the duty of each member of the Department to honor the established principles of democracy upon which this country was founded. Among these is the most profound reverence for human life, the value of which far exceeds that of any property. In view of this, it is essential that every action of this Department and of each of its members be consistent with that responsibility.

For these reasons, it is appropriate that this Statement on the Value of Human Life embodies the spirit of the Department and sets forth the principles and policies which guide the conduct of every Department employee.

In recognition, therefore, of the commitment of this Department to the preservations of human life, and because of the public trust which empowers sworn police officers to lawfully exercise force, even deadly force when required, in carrying out that commitment, it is hereby declared to be the policy of this Department that (1) the use of deadly force will never be condoned as a routine response; and (2) police officers will exercise the highest degree of care in the applications of such force.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I suggest he read his departments website:

“Aren’t police forces as good at keeping this sort of trust as Obama is at keeping with the presidential oath of office?”

He did better than Bush.
Nobody killed several thousand Americans on US soil due to Obama’s failure to listen to his people.
Can Bush say the same?

Anonymous Coward says:

“As many have noted, this certainly sounds like Roorda saying that it’s the police’s “First Amendment” rights to look the other way should any threats come to the team or the stadium. “

Um, no. That’s not what he’s saying at all. He’s saying that a lot of the merchandise revenue comes from the police community, and they have a right to not support the rams financially.

You guys are really reaching on this one.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

That’s fine if the fact that they’re cops isn’t at all referenced in their statements and all statements and actions taken by them on this topic happen outside of their work time and not using publicly funded resources meant for the execution of their (proper) duties. Otherwise, by being a group of public government employees charged with a sacred duty to uphold the law, including protecting the rights of people with whom they disagree, they’re being unethical by wasting the money and resources of the public to attack the lawful and constititionally protected speech of citizens due to their personal, not professional views on the matter.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

they aren’t. While on duty they are to act as cops. While off duty they are regular citizens that can have political views and enjoy participating in any group or legal endeavor they wish to.
That is why you can have Jewish cops protecting Muslim Mosques from vandalism but when they are off duty could be protesting or donating money to a cause to not allow a mosque to be erected in the first place.

At least that is how it is designed to work. the implementation might not go as planned but….

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I could read it either way, but the proper response to people reading it as a protection racket would be to simply say:

“Woah…I didn’t mean we wouldn’t protect you. I just meant that we are going to boycott your stuff. Rest assured, we are going to keep everyone safe, even if we do not agree with their views.”

This would have gone much better for him.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No, he is not reaching. He is being deliberately provocative and insulting to the PD. Nowhere in the quotes is it even remotely suggested that the PD will or should look the other way. Apparently the 1st Amendment does not represent a fundamental right enjoyed by members of law enforcement.

The NFL deserves criticism for letting its stage be used by some for political purposes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Given the actions of the St. Louis PD towards a particular section of its citizens, I’d be more inclined to take the view that Mike has, without further clarification; thyat the St. Louis PD will not protect the NFL team and its environs.

Remember that this is the PD that took tanks to a protest over the killing of Michael Brown. That is not a reasonable response from what should be a peacekeeping force in the community.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The NFL deserves criticism for letting its stage be used by some for political purposes.

How on Earth was the NFL going to prevent that, or even see it coming? “Fire all the human players! We need programmable robots, damnit!”

Perhaps they need to run a political correctness marketing camp alongside training camp next season?

Try thinking, and only then posting, next time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

This is difficult for me to understand. Players make a gesture that, to them, implies support for justice and a butthurt police association takes it to mean that the players and the organization they work for are against all cops everywhere.

In contrast, the NFL has been criticized for its failure to more severely punish players who are alleged or proven to have beaten their spouse/fiance, endangered their children, and promoted dog fighting, among other issues.

In comparison to the crimes that some players have committed, this act of free speech isn’t a blip on the radar of things the NFL should address. Anyone getting worked up about this is choosing to interpret in a way that gets them worked up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

As pointed out, the first amendment is about protection of speech from the government. So while there’s some misleading going on here, the core is still correct: a LEO was making a statement that other government employees should change their behaviour towards a corporation based on speech exhibited by some of its employees and not reprimanded by the corporation.

He has every right to make that statement as an individual, but the call for LEOs to stop supporting the Rams, in his capacity as a government official, puts him in violation of the first ammendment.

The NFL can do whatever it want with its stage — just think of the sort of thing that goes on during the Superbowl. Others have the right to change what they do based on how the NFL or some of its contracted employees use that stage — but government employees do not, as a collective group, have that right.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

but the call for LEOs to stop supporting the Rams, in his capacity as a government official,

Except he didn’t make it in his capacity as a government official. He made it in his capacity as a spokesman for the SLPOA, and although I have no direct knowledge, I’m going to assume that’s not actually a government organization.

a LEO was making a statement

Actually, no. The spokesman is an ex-cop, not a current one, according to the article.

Innocent Bystander says:

Re: "Looking the other way"

This. This right here.

First, this is not the STL Police Department. It’s a doofus leader of the Police Officers Association – not even the police union, as some places have reported. This is more like a booster club for cops, like the booster club my local high school baseball team has.

Second, he didn’t threaten to let the stadium burn. He threatened to stop buying the advertisers’ products.

Your (Mike’s) argument is weakened when you get all hysterical about Roorda’s statement.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Reaching

Absolutely spot on. This site is really verging on tabloid level bullshit with it’s anti-cop slant recently. While there are certainly plenty of instances of police misconduct, I have to wonder what the hell most of the ones reported here have to do with technology, which is the purported raison d’être of this blog’s existence, after all. While it’s certainly Masnick, et al’s right to write about whatever they please on their site, I come here for tech news and commentary, not cop abuse news. There are plenty of other forums devoted specifically to that should the topic interest me. I used to check in here religiously every day. Now it’s only a couple times a week and the drift of this blog away from its core subject matter is the main reason why. And I’m not the only one. I know of several other once-loyal readers who no longer visit for the same reason. Maybe the site has gained other readers who love the site’s recent metamorphosis into a cop-watch blog, so it’s a wash to the powers that be around here, but I nevertheless find it sad that what used to be a very interesting daily read has degenerated into an endless series of “Bad cop! No donut!” anecdotes.

In the present case it seems that his anti-police zeal got the better of Masnick and he is either purposely or just negligently portraying a call for a Rams merchandise boycott (which very much iswithin the 1st Amendment rights of the STL cops) with a threat of refusing to protect the stadium and the fans, which is absurd. And in any event, there is nothing about this story that touches on the topic of technology, so yet again, the question becomes why it’s even here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Reaching

…there is nothing about this story that touches on the topic of technology…

Backlash over Rams’ Hands-Up Gesture Totally Misses the Point”, by Dan Levy, Bleacher Report, Dec 2, 2014

This is the police of a major metropolitan American city engaging in a social media flame war with the local NFL team while the outskirts of their city were literally going up in flames. (What’s the Twitter equivalent of wearing riot gear and rolling up in a tank, anyway?)

A story about “the police of a major metropolitan American city engaging in a social media flame war” is a story about technology.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is the tip of the iceberg in St. Louis

I know. I grew up there, right next door to Ferguson. And I still spend significant time there.

And while there are many good cops who exhibit professionalism under duress (anyone can do it when there’s no pressure) there are also thugs like Roorda. And they cover for each other — precisely as he’s done.

And that’s why the Michael Brown case isn’t the first or the last one. Berkeley (just down the street from Ferguson) was the scene of a 2001 police execution when two unarmed men sitting in a car at the Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru were shot 20-something times. Police claimed…well, they claimed a lot of things, but unfortunately the restaurant’s surveillance video showed that they were lying.

And then they walked, because in St. Louis, dirty cops get to do that.

And Roorda is one of the worst.

Deputy Dickwad says:

Stand Tall Brother, and Don't let the Plebs get you DOWN!

Roorda- “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…”

Fine Brother Roorda and I both know this ’cause all you suckas are under constant surveilance. It is not that the stupid, need to get beatdown, tear-gassed, and shot if you don’t STFU and go away, protesters, are too busy protesting. It is they are too stoopid and poor to buy that crap.

So listen up “RAMS” soupper-duper, sucked to bad in Los Angeles, footballers, quit “PROTESTING”, STFU! and get back to catching the ball like the good citizens I know you are! Or Roorda, me, Deputy Dickwad, my brother-in-law Special Agent Scumbag, my sister, Missouri National guardsman Colonel Scumbag, and the rest of the LEO community will treat you just like any other protesters!

And I think you know that we’ve demonstrated already we don’t care if there are cameras and reporters and all that other crap we’ll just give them a couple ‘o zingers (rubber bullets and 12ga bean bags! love that bean bag toss! Shout out to my other brother-from-another-mother in Oakland, CA keep up the good werk boys!) and gas grenades!

Where’s the keys to the Bearcat? I need to make a donut run…

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I do see threats of boycotting the NFL and their advertisers, but that is their right.

That’s actually a bit of a problem. This is a group of government employees taking action against political speech. This is really not that far off from a government agency deciding contracts based on the political views of companies and their leadership.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The group involved is a nonofficial support group (like a booster club) and is not actually the police department or it’s management. I don’t actually see a slippery slope problem here as you state it, since no government agencies are involved.

The police have every right to speak, just as the football players do.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

They don’t have the right to say it as police. They are speaking as, and for, police as police. Why mention that they are police, and put forth the “look what we did for you, buddy” comment, as if it isn’t their fucking job, but some unpaid favor the just happen to be doing out of the goodness of their hearts, but boy are they pissed and full of regret now?

And if anyone thinks a commercial boycott by some cops is going to hurt their bottom line in any significant manner, then lol. It sounds a lot more like the “It would be a real shame should something happen to this nice team” sort of implied threat, and cops do it all the goddamned time. They do it if you simply aren’t obsequious enough for their tastes. Not every cop is like that, but enough are, and as organizations, this is certainly their behavior. And regardless as to what the officer did when Michael Brown was killed, they handled the entire thing like a cover up and used excessive force continually afterward for no reason. They make themselves look guilty of the prior bad act because they clearly have zero respect for anyone’s rights.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“They don’t have the right to say it as police.”

I’m not so sure about that, but even so, they weren’t saying it as police, or at least not in their official capacity as police. It wasn’t even said by a police officer or someone who represents the police department. It was said by the representative of what amounts to a private club for police officers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That’s actually a bit of a problem. This is a group of government employees taking action against political speech. This is really not that far off from a government agency deciding contracts based on the political views of companies and their leadership.

I don’t actually think it’s a problem in this case. It’s not the SLPD, it’s the SLPOA; and I think that distinction matters, even if the same people are in both groups. It’s a group of people, who happen to be government employees. The way I interpret it, they aren’t taking action as government employees (like deciding not to buy a certain brand of pistols for the department), but as private citizens (like deciding not to personally purchase a certain brand of beer advertised during Rams games).

Just because someone is a government employee does not mean that they are now “the government” and lose all First Amendment rights even when they are off the clock.

Anonymous Coward says:

If there were any way to make it worse, The SLPD has just demoed how to do that during public relations.

I suspect they have forgotten that their paychecks are derived from the public’s tax dollar. We just as well say if you can’t do your job then no pay.

But then if one, just one of these players get injured after the game with this direct threat not to act, how liable is the City of St. Louis?

If anything, it is this sort of attitude on display from a public servant that tells me it’s rotten to the core with “I’m better than you” types. A sure sign it is time to fire some of these would be cops.

Anonymous Coward says:

“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.”

Sorry, but I have to agree with the others that have pointed out that this quote does not support the headline of “St. Louis Police Claim It’s Their ‘First Amendment’ Rights Not To Protect Football Players Who Supported Protestors”. They did not claim it. You may think that it was insinuated, but that’s not the same thing. (And the argument for insinuation would be larger if he had stopped after “we plan to exercise ours”, but he didn’t stop there. He then talked about buying advertiser’s products. A boycott would be well within the officer’s rights, and even if it wasn’t it still wouldn’t be the same as failure to protect the players.)

Anonymous Coward says:

I think it’s really a stretch to say SLPD is saying it’s their First Amendment right to protect the NFL. Far from that, it seems the NFL (players, owners, et al) asked for loads of “protection” from the rioters, vandals, and thugs in Ferguson and then metaphorically shot the finger back at the cops protecting them and their property. I’d be mad, and that exactly what Roorda is saying here. True, players have the right to free speech, but as NFL personas in uniform, they should have stayed out of the conversation. As a normal person, out of uniform, say what you want, but then don’t ask for any special protection details if you REALLY believe the system is corrupt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

As NFL personas in uniform they ‘speak’ on behalf of the NFL. I’m sure you employer would not appreciate you saying “My Company supports XYZ” without some official affirmation they actually do. Outside of uniform, they can say/do whatever they want. As NFL personas, they are (and should be) accountable to the NFL for their actions.

sigalrm says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Hmm.

“As NFL personas, they are (and should be) accountable to the NFL for their actions.

According to the press and various social media outlets, the players have been held to account – publicly – by both the NFL and the Rams organization. And based on a variety of statements and a complete and utter lack of disciplinary action, it doesn’t appear that the NFL or the Rams had much of a problem with the actions of their players.

In fact, such a complete and utter lack of disciplinary action looks almost, but not quite, like an endorsement.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

That’s kind of dumb of this officer, actually. If the players’ acts looked like an act of solidarity with a violent thug, that’s probably because that’s literally exactly what it was.

Football players are violent thugs, hired to commit acts of violence in a well-regulated setting. There’s a long and well-documented culture of omerta that the football industry has built up of sweeping under the rug incidents where their violence strays off the field and they end up committing acts that would get people without the NFL’s lawyers at their back put away for serious felony charges. It happens often enough that I’m a bit surprised a law enforcement officer would want to try to identify as being on their side!

Anonymous Coward says:

Yeah, I get it. Police deal with a lot of crappy people very often. It skews their outlook on people. Still, being just slightly better than the people you deal with all day doesn’t make you a good person though, just less crappy. Being a cop isn’t a free pass, you should still get called out for being a monster after fighting a couple monsters.

Yeah, there is a lot of potential risk in what they do, but the thing is: They CHOOSE to do it. Quit lashing out because the job is exactly what was signed up for.

Respect is EARNED and it can also easily be lost. Then it takes more effort to gain it than the last time. Police might be able to KEEP some of the respect they earn if they quit spending it on fellow police officers who do not deserve it. This protect each other before you protect the people bit has got to end. Are the police there to protect the police first? If so then let everyone be a police officer, they’ll protect their self first and then other when it’s convenient.

Just what is wrong with their minds that they think they can be trusted on judging a group when they KNOW they defend many bad actors in that group. That’s the problem with lying, people don’t believe you even when you speak the truth. Doesn’t matter what they think on the subject, they can’t be trusted to judge their own based on past behavior.

It would actually look good if they treated their own like they treat citizens. Post a blotter of bad cops they weed out like they do for citizens in newspapers. Post their pictures like they do for being charged with a DUI. They’re citizens too right?

David says:

Re: Learn the damn difference

That’s not clear: there may still be a federal examination of whether Brown had his civil rights violated.

To me this “civil rights” mechanism sounds positively moronic. It’s sort of “ok, our judicial system does not work in some regions and we can’t really fix that short of swapping out the populace constituting judge, jury, and prosecution, so instead let’s do some parallel federal examination with a quasi-different topic and see whether we can sneak in some consolation-prize justice through a backdoor”.

At any rate, there might still be some publicly accessible examination of evidence to come.

Zonker says:

Re: Re: Learn the damn difference

Actually, there is one way under Missouri law that the entire grand jury process for Wilson could be redone from scratch: the presiding judge of the 21st Circuit could appoint a special prosecutor if they feel the prosecutor demonstrated a bias or conflict-of-interest.

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/12/02/3598082/one-woman-could-appoint-a-special-prosecutor-and-bring-justice-to-ferguson/

Anonymous Coward says:

I hate to say it but I agree with the police department this time. Just what did the NFL and the Rams think would happen? Here we have hundreds of police officers protecting the NFL Rams and their fans and the Rams get on the astroturf and basically insult the very police officers who were there protecting them?

HOORAH to the police officers who opted not to protect these entitled morons.

jackn says:

Re: Re:

Here’s the quote

that perpetuate this myth that Michael Brown was executed by a brother police officer and then, as the players and their fans sit safely in their dome under the watchful protection of hundreds of St. Louis’s finest, they take to the turf to call a now-exonerated officer a murderer, that is way out-of-bounds, to put it in football parlance,

and he is now asking for the football players to be ‘punished’ for raising their hands.

I don’t why the cops didn’t shoot the football players, the cops now have a clear path for this ‘instant justice’ based on the ‘myth’ of the now-exonerated ‘brother’ officer.

TruthHurts says:

Re: Re: Re:

The murderer wasn’t exonerated, the corrupt grand jury failed to indict, there’s a difference there.

What percentage of almost 150,000 cases weren’t indicted on during grand-jury deliberation? less than one tenth of 1 percent – that’s how many.

How long does it normally take to decide if there’s enough evidence to go to a real trial? 5 minutes or less.

How long did the DA keep the grand jury tied up? A helluva lot longer than 5 minutes…

How many snarky comments from other police officers did they hear? How many times were they threatened during that extended duration?

How clear can it be that something corrupted the entire process down there?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Do your job or get out

HOORAH to the police officers who opted not to protect these entitled morons.

I’m with the others in believing that Mike misread this one, but if that was his(the ex-cop’s) intention, ‘You insulted us, so we’re not going to bother to protect you’, you know what that claim would mean? It would mean that they were threatening to refuse to do their jobs.

They are paid, and given ‘rights’ well beyond what your average citizen has, in order to do their job, which is, despite what a lot of them seem to think, serving the public.

They’re public servants, paid by the public, in order to serve the public. On the job they will do their damn job, or they deserve to lose the job.

Off the clock they can say what they want, do what they want, but on the clock they’d better be doing their job of serving the public, even if their poor feelings have been bruised, or they feel insulted, by what some of that public has said and/or done. If they’re not mature enough to stay calm and professional when someone insults them, then they have no business being in their line of work, and should find some other job where they won’t have to deal with the mean ‘ol public and their terrible, hurtful words.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Do your job or get out

I’m with the others in believing that Mike misread this one…

In the Washington Post story which Mike linked above, did the story’s writer, Sally Jenkins, misread things, too? Ms Jenkins wrote:

The implication was clear, that only police protection keeps the mob at bay, and if that protection was withdrawn, well, who knows what could happen.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Do your job or get out

‘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.

That, to me at least, reads as a threat to boycott purchases from the NFL, rather than refusal to do their jobs.

That said, with his, shall we say ‘checkered history’, I can certainly see why someone might read a little deeper into his statement and come out with the impression that the real threat is for the cops to refuse to do their jobs. And it’s entirely possible that that is the real threat there, I mean, if you’re talking about someone like this who seems to think beating up a unarmed suspect and then lying about is is acceptable, then a threat to ‘look the other way’ would be in character for someone like that.

Michael (profile) says:

under the watchful protection of hundreds of St. Louis’s finest, they take to the turf to call a now-exonerated officer a murderer, that is way out-of-bounds, to put it in football parlance

It’s nice to know that any time someone stands in front of one of “St. Louis’ Finest” with their hands up that it is going to be taken as an attack on the character of the entire police force. Apparently, giving up peacefully in that town is not a very good idea.

Anonymous Coward says:

so is the ‘sucker punching officer’ gonna be sued? he damn well should be! but then, the way that the police act now is pretty despicable at best and down-right disgraceful after that! police used to be the ones who took oaths to ‘Protect and Serve’. all they do now is protect each other from getting brought up on charges for illegal behavior and serve each other large spoonfuls of ready to use bullshit for when caught out!!

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Tabloid Interpretation

I can see reading it as a direct threat to not protect them, but even if you read it as simply a call for police officers and their supporters to boycott NFL merchandise and businesses related to the NFL, this is an organized government group seeking to stifle speech they disagree with.

That’s EXACTLY what the first amendment is supposed to prevent from happening. Police officers can do all of the talking they want to, but a call to action of any kind against a group because they do not agree with their protected speech is a pretty big problem.

TruthHurts says:

Re: Re: St. Louis PD - Listen up...

Actually they don’t have that right, I don’t care what corrupt court tries to say they do.

They can either do their job, or they can be fired and probably brought up on charges if anyone was hurt because they didn’t do their job.

If the courts fail to prosecute, we the people can arrest them (citizen’s arrest), and keep arresting them until the corrupt D.A. gets the picture that they’ll need to prosecute.

Monarch (profile) says:

Mike, stick to stories at least related to tech

Mike,
I’ve been reading techdirt for over 10 years now. This is the first time I’ve been utterly disgusted with one of your stories. I may not have always agreed with your point of view on a story. I may have gotten the YAWN factor at many of your stories, BUT, I’ve never been disgusted by your stories. Are you just making crap up now, based on a statement by a UNION rep? Hell, I personally hope the police stay FU to the Rams and tell them to hire private security for the stadium. I hope the fans quit supporting the Rams. Yeah the players have a right to be idiots and morally bankrupt, but I don’t want to have to deal with it on the field. The Rams owners should suspend the players without pay, or the NFL. But if they aren’t, let’s hope the citizens don’t support the Rams advertisers.

TruthHurts (profile) says:

Re: Mike, stick to stories at least related to tech

@Monarch

It doesn’t matter what your opinion of the situation is, it doesn’t matter what the Police Department’s opinion is or even individual police officers.

When they took that job, they swore to protect everyone, period.

That includes people they disagree with. They don’t get to choose who to protect for any reason whatsoever. If they don’t understand that, then they should not have that job.

This is one case that is pure black and white – no in betweens, no shades of grey and you don’t get a say in the matter.

As to the players being suspended for practicing their first amendment rights, well, that’s just it, they can do that, it doesn’t hurt anyone physically or emotionally to do so. It would only hurt the Rams and the NFL to suspend players showing their support for the people of Ferguson involved with this horrific situation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Mike, stick to stories at least related to tech

I personally hope that anyone who thinks this way in the department gets fired immediately. The fact that they think this is a quid pro quo situation as in “If you behave how we like then we will protect you and if you don’t we wont.” shows a level of filth that needs to be completely purged from the department.

If you can’t be a cop without trying to control everything and everyone you shouldn’t be a cop. He can say he doesn’t like something. Freedom of speech but he can’t not do his job because he doesn’t like critisism.

the Baby boomerish generation is the worst and most dangerous generation ever. I can’t wait for the day they all retire or keel over. The world will be better off.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Mike, stick to stories at least related to tech

the Baby boomerish generation is the worst and most dangerous generation ever. I can’t wait for the day they all retire or keel over.

I look forward to the day when we won’t need to see boneheaded blanket condemnations of entire populations of disparate individuals based on some bizarre belief that every member of the set of X == $blah.

My parents’ generation put men on the moon. I loved it! At the same time, hippies were wallowing in the mud at Woodstock, and I loved that too! My generation stopped a genocidal war in SE Asia against peasants who just wanted to get all the damned foreigners out of their country!

Don’t be such a collectivist, kneejerk, shallow as a pane of glass fool. Prove to us we weren’t wasting time and money and effort trying to educate you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Mike, stick to stories at least related to tech

Agreed. Totally inappropriate for this forum. And considering that the physical evidence supported the Officers story, many ‘witnesses’ against him admitted to lying and others who’s testimony supported him were fearful of violent reprisal, no other decision could have been made.

Anonymous Coward says:

[Related] Incitement to riot

This is only tangentially related to the article above, however, I think it’s worth throwing into the mix here, and relevant enough as it’s another view of the First Amendment from Ferguson police.

Police investigating if Michael Brown’s stepfather intended to incite riot”, by Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN, Dec 2, 2014

Authorities are investigating whether Michael Brown’s stepfather intended to incite a riot last week when he urged a crowd in Ferguson, Missouri, to “Burn this bitch down” after the grand jury’s decision was announced, the city’s police chief said Tuesday.

[…more…]

It seems plausible that Louis Head’s (Mike Brown’s stepfather’s) exhortation to “Burn it down” might meet the “imminent lawless action” standard of Brandenburg v Ohio (1969).

(H/T “Police consider charges against Michael Brown’s stepdad”, by John Bacon, USA Today, Dec 2, 2014)

TruthHurts (profile) says:

Re: [Related] Incitement to riot

The first person to be arrested for “inciting a riot” would be the DA that released the decision before the security was in place to try and handle things without resorting to brute force tactics.

The second group to be arrested for inciting a riot would be the grand jury that failed to do the right thing and indict the officer that murdered an unarmed man. That would have sent it to trial where all the evidence would be public. The way they did it leaves people with doubts. It was a mistake, a grave mistake to do it that way and people have suffered because of that Grand Jury’s actions.

Now finally, we have the pen-ultimate cause of the rioting, that cause is the officer who made the choice, for whatever reason, to end the life of an unarmed man.

The rioting got worse when the local PD stepped out to squash the rioters like bugs instead of treating them like people, inflaming the riot to higher levels.

So, arrest the officer who caused it all, then arrest the police officers that escalated the violence, arrest the grand jury for inciting a 2nd riot by not following the letter of the law, arrest the judge for not forcing the grand jury to follow the law, then arrest the DA for releasing the information when the security was unprepared.

That’s if you want to point fingers and play the blame game.

Anonymous Coward says:

The purpose of the first amendment is so that governments won’t discriminate based on someone’s speech. For the police to discriminate on who they will protect based on their speech is the very antithesis of the first amendment. We don’t pay police to protect those they wish to protect we pay them to protect everyone indiscriminately.

Anonymous Coward says:

For those who have a problem with Mike's article

As a member (leader) of any Police association, any statements made like the following

“The SLPOA is calling for the players involved to be disciplined

He also plans to reach out to other police organizations in St. Louis and around the country to enlist their input on what the appropriate response from law enforcement should be.

indicates that he is “wanting” to ensure that any disagreement with past actions is to be disciplined and that he will make obvious “veiled” threats against the safety of those who disagree with him and his associates.

It is irrelevant that he then goes onto to reference merchandise. As the organisations are police and law enforcement, he is implying that he wants to remove citizen safety as the weapon of choice for his threats. He wasn’t reaching out to other organisation for merchandise boycotting but for appropriate response from law enforcement.

Irrespective of any past actions that he may have been personally involved in, this alone indicates he is not a man to be trusted with the safety of a kiddy car let alone the safety of citizens.

Personanongrata says:

Non-Public Relations 101

If all the petty, low self-esteem, authoritarian cretins employed as police officers within the US resigned local communities across America would benefit greatly from their absence.

People such as the St Louis Police Officers Association’s Jeff Roorda aren’t interested in serving the community, they don’t have the proper temperament. They’re often seen publicly feeding their sadistic desires at some unwary/unfortunate citizens expense under color of the law.

PS That is quite the spokesperson the St Louis Police Officers Association has speaking on it’s members behalf.

Anonymous Coward says:

Was this a veiled threat or not? Was any of this said with official backing, or is purely an expression of the mindset of people who would make an economic protest while on their own time, acting as private citizens?

I don’t know. The thing I find really interesting is that of all the shit pulled by NFL players in the recent past, this is what police, police supporters, and authoritarians in general have chosen to get upset about.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Maybe I'm Missing Something

I’m as critical of our burgeoning police state as anyone, but I can’t see anywhere in the quote where he threatened or even hinted that the cops would stop protecting NFL players.

“You have a first amendment right to say that you support the looters, and we have a first amendment right to say that the looters are not your primary supporters” seems like a fairly innocuous thing to say.

Steerpike (profile) says:

I agree with the vast majority of the criticism of St. Louis and STL County police in handling not only the Rams incident, but the whole Michael Brown case.

But this post is a bit bizarre, in that there is no threat from the police to look the other way if the Rams are threatened, and I don’t even think that was a reasonable interpretation of what was said.

The guy goes from the First Amendment comment to talking about who it is who patronizes the NFL. Seems pretty clear the First Amendment comment was about no longer patronizing the NFL or its partners, an even encouraging others to refrain from doing so. The idea that it is a threat not to protect the Rams is a huge stretch…basically just creating a sensational blog post out of nothing.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

You have a 1st Amendment right to say insanely idiotic things, but it does not protect you from the fall out of those actions.

You make a stupid statement and threaten to not do your duty, you are no longer fit for the job have a nice day, get out. Now go explain to the membership why they are all getting pink slipped because you opened your mouth.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Update

Finally had a chance to read through the comments — and recognize the concerns of many, and the belief that I may have read too much into Roorda’s statement. I’ve now added an update. I still feel that it’s rather clear that he’s issuing a rather clear, if only implied, threat that goes beyond just a consumer boycott of NFL advertisers. But just the idea that police might argue they have the right to treat people differently because they wish to protest police actions, strikes me as troubling.

That said, as always, we learn a lot from our commenters, and recognize that not everyone agrees with our interpretation of Roorda’s statements here. And, as always, we will continue to strive to do our best in our writing to accurately and fairly present the information we’re discussing. In this post, we clearly could have done a better job explaining the reasoning and thinking behind our position — and will strive to do much better going forward.

Nic says:

Re: Update

Thanks for taking the feedback. I still think it should be retracted personally. I don’t see any implied threat.

I read it like ‘We cops protect you, not those thugs, so we’ll boycott your products and that of your partners going forward’.

I completely disagree with the notion that all Ferguson protesters are ‘thugs’ but I don’t see anything illegal in what they said.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Update

retracting is not really in Techdirts spirit. When something is out on the web it is out of the bottle and trying to get it back in is not worth the bother. When that is said, this comment might be appropriate in the bottom of the article to bring the point home as in: It was use of free speech that opened the problem and it is free speech that damage control. That would be coming full circle.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Update

“I read it like ‘We cops protect you, not those thugs, so we’ll boycott your products and that of your partners going forward'”

If that’s what they meant, that’s not much better. The police should be concerned with protecting “those thugs” to the same degree that they are concerned with protecting the football players.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Update

I thought the headline was a reach (like I said earlier, an insinuation is not really the same as a “claim”) but I don’t consider the lapse to be serious because you provided the context, allowing us to decide for ourselves. Some people would have dropped the entire part of the quote about the advertisers if it was inconvenient for their viewpoint. You didn’t, and I give you credit for that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Update

A worthless, self-serving “update” that does no more than to try and rationalize in part a headline that is profoundly misleading, wildly inaccurate, and professionally insulting…and remains so.

The only thing that seems clear in this article is its author’s anti-LE bias, which the “update” only serves to highlight.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Update

A worthless, self-serving “update” that does no more than to try and rationalize in part a headline that is profoundly misleading, wildly inaccurate, and professionally insulting…and remains so.

I disagree, but respect your opinion. I feel that it’s rather clear from the entirety of his statement that he was talking about a lot more than just an economic boycott.

The only thing that seems clear in this article is its author’s anti-LE bias, which the “update” only serves to highlight.

I have no anti-LE bias at all (if you only knew…). I strongly support law enforcement when done right. My problem is with those who abuse their power, and especially with anyone who tries to stamp out the free speech rights of others by abusing their positions of authority.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Update

It’s attitudes like yours that make people want to pull out a cellphone and record what you’re up to whenever you’re seen. In a few years, television won’t be blanketed with cop shows. It’ll be wall to wall “look what we found on this pig’s body cam” shows.

You’ll have earned every minute of it. You forgot who you’re working for and why you were hired to do it. All you’re doing is making good cops’ jobs impossible! Bravo!

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Update

How do you know he’s a cop? (Or if the person is even a ‘he’, for that matter?)

I don’t. No apologies. Does it matter? One of the things Anonymous Coward means is loss of your identity. There is a down side to anonymity too and that should be understood. It did it to itself, leaving me to assume whatever I wanted.

I assume it is a cop and I wrote as if it was a cop. If it’s not really a cop, then I was mildly mistaken, but not much as it didn’t bother to identify itself.

To all the good cops out there, you know I wasn’t talking about you.

Nic says:

Wow, talk about misleading

Seriously, I went into this on the warpath. Just from reading the title. Then I read the cops’ statement.

You ought to apologize and retract the story. The cops’ statement is only that they plan to boycott their products and those of their advertisers.

That’s free speech. They have the right to do that. I’ve got no idea where you pulled the idea that they won’t public protection to those players.

Shame on you for a sensational and completely false title.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wow, talk about misleading

If you read the statements carefully you will see that there are a lot of indirect threats flowing between the lines. Merchandise is merely a small brick in the wall he is building.

My main concern is the us versus them in this. The action by the players is miniscule and acting up like he does is just another venting of the acid that will drive the community into more of a split. When you as a police-department has so little ability to communicate in an adult manner with the community you work in, you are not part of the solution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Was Jeff Roorda one of the cops in that video showing a handcuffed suspect get sucker punched? I watched that video twice. I didn’t see the handcuffed suspect flinch, let alone one of the cops being crouched down.

I can only conclude that Jeff Roorda is a dishonest liar, perhaps even a criminal, due to his false statements in court.

huntertw1 (profile) says:

Chamber of Commerce announces today a push for CISA Cyberspying bill

Please read: From the Hill

http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/225758-industry-still-pushing-for-lame-duck-cyber-bill as many of you know CISA legalizes NSA Spying http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/12/senate-nsa-secret-cybersecurity-information-sharing-act and gets rid of Net Neutrality online without FCC approval http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/07/07/nsa-net-neutrality-fears-overshadow-senate-cybersecurity-vote I know I am conspiratorial, but I find it very strange all these hacker attacks are happening and I remember last October when Congressman Mike Rodgers promised he would do everything in his power to get CISA on the Senate floor http://thehill.com/policy/technology/219429-house-chairman-fears-political-tantrums-could-sink-cyber-bill With a case being decided about controlling and arresting people for there Free Speech when making comments on the web http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-supreme-court-facebook-threats-free-speech-20141201-story.html (I wonder after this decision would it be legal to want death for Usama Bin Laden especially if people were so angry about the towers falling and this case was ruled before 9/11 happened would then the BIG BAD FBI come over your house and put you in jail?) Insane. Techdirt please let your readers know the Chamber Of Commerce has not given up in putting CISA to a vote this month before the Senate Christmas recess. Do not let the Senate take over the internet. Help stop CISA S.2588 and for all you readers call the Senate http://www.senate.gov 2022243121 and after you give the operator your Zip Code, tell your 2 Senators NO TO CISA S.2588

Chamber OF Commerce makes it very clear, before the end of this recess before the Senate goes on Christmas Break they are going to push for S.2588 CISA Cyberspying bill http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/225758-industry-still-pushing-for-lame-duck-cyber-bill of course this is in the wake of the SONY hacking scandal. It amazes me 2 months after Congressman Mike Rodgers pushes for CISA Cyberspying bill http://thehill.com/policy/technology/219429-house-chairman-fears-political-tantrums-could-sink-cyber-bill we have had major attacks at Home Depot, JP Morgan and this CYBERSPYING bill will cost us a ton of money http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/225008-cyber-info-sharing-bill-would-cost-20-million and will do nothing. At any rate, who does the Government feel the need ti protect when deciding on my free speech. For example when 9/11 happened many people wanted to KILL Usama Bin Laden. Would the Bin Laden family who was in THE US find those threats threatening and call the FBI to arrest people because perhaps the bin Laden Family would have felt threatened even though many people would have been angry. What about Text Messages will the FBI come in and harass someone for saying they like to kick the crap out of there girlfriend NOT MEANING IT but angry about something. Will these text or e-mails or Facebook postings put you in jail. The Supreme Court is loaded with Anti Free Speech Judges. Scalia and Alito are the worst. This is truly sad.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...