During pre-game introductions Sunday, the St. Louis Rams receiving corps came out of the stadium tunnel with their hands up in a clear showing of solidarity with the protesters in nearby Ferguson. Rams receivers Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin led the demonstration, walking solemnly out onto the field with their hands up, a gesture protesters have used to represent unarmed teenager Michael Brown prior to his shooting death at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Witnesses have said that Brown had his hands up when Wilson shot him at least six times.
Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders is the first Rams game since a grand jury announced Monday evening that Wilson will not be indicted for the death of Brown. Riots broke out in Ferguson after the announcement, leading to ransacked businesses and burned-down buildings. Since Monday night’s unrest, protests have continued not only in and around Ferguson, but all across the nation. Generally, the demonstrations have been peaceful, but have shown that the issue of police brutality and racial disparity resonates throughout the United States.
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) November 30, 2014
Since Brown’s death in August, protesters have demonstrated at both Rams and St. Louis Cardinals games. During a Monday Night Football game in October against the San Francisco 49ers, activists organized a protest in the stands where banners were unfurled with the words ‘Black Lives Matter.’ At the following game, a demonstration outside the stadium became heated after protesters were spit on and a Rams fan tried to snatch a flag and run with it. During the Cardinals’ playoff run, protests occurred outside Busch Stadium. Demonstrators were met with racist taunts and, on one occasion, a fan greeted them with a Nazi salute.
Rams management was prepared for potential protests in and around the stadium Sunday. Stadium officials said that they added 50 additional security personnel for the game against the Raiders. However, they couldn’t restrict the players’ ability to make their own statement. The Rams receivers let Ferguson know they stand with them.