St. Louis Police Say Rams Apologized For "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" Protest — Except, They Didn't
The St. Louis Rams and St. Louis County Police Department are currently engaged in a he said-he said runaround that may shed some new light on the inner workings of St. Louis police. On Monday, St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar reportedly sent an email to his staff claiming the St. Louis Rams have apologized for their "Hands Up" protest before the Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders. But now the St. Louis Rams say they never apologized for the Ferguson protest, their top executives standing by their African-American players.
According to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Belmar's email to his staff said he talked via telephone to Kevin Demoff, Rams vice president of football operations, on Monday morning. Belmar stated that Demoff took "the opportunity to apologize to our department" for the mini Ferguson protest on the football field.
Belmar continued in the email:
Mr. Demoff clearly regretted that any members of the Ram's organization would act in a way that minimized the outstanding work that police officers and departments carry out each and every day. My impression of the call was that it was heartfelt and I assured him that I would share it with my staff.
However, Demoff told the Post-Dispatch Monday night that Belmar overstated the apology; in fact, there may have been no apology whatsoever. Demoff told the newspaper in a phone interview that while he "felt badly" that the St. Louis County Police Department took his players' show of solidarity as "disrespectful" to the law enforcement community, he ultimately supports his players' protest:
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. We do believe it is possible to both support our players' First Amendment rights and support the efforts of local law enforcement as our community begins the process of healing.
Demoff was conciliatory when speaking with the Post-Dispatch, saying he agreed the conversation between him and Belmar was "heartfelt" and "productive." The Rams executive also said that when he met with several St. Louis County police officials on Monday afternoon, both sides "began a good dialogue but recognize[d] there is work to be done to strengthen" their relationship.
But the St. Louis County Police Department seems a bit miffed over Demoff's assertion that he didn't apologize. The police department really believes he did — or at least, they want him to. In a Facebook post published late on Monday, the police department said, "Even though Mr. Demoff stated he never apologized, the Chief believed it to be an apology."
And on Twitter, the St. Louis PD got a bit snarky, tweeting about the dictionary definition of "apology" to implicate Demoff and the Rams. According to the police department, Demoff's apology was textbook.
So, which is it? Is an apology for St. Louis police taking the "Hands Up" gesture in an offensive way still an apology for the protest on a whole?
The St. Louis Police Department can keep quibbling over Demoff's non-apology apology — or apologetic non-apology — but the officers may be better off adhering to the St. Louis Rams official statement on the issue:
What has transpired over the past four months is a tragedy that has impacted our entire community. Together we are beginning a healing process that will require time, energy and honest dialogue. The Rams will continue to build on what have always been strong and valued relationships with local law enforcement and the greater St. Louis community as we come together to help heal our region.
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