The spat between St. Louis law enforcement and the St. Louis Rams turned into a basic vocabulary lesson on Monday after one local police department took to social media to educate team officials about the definition of an apology, this after a team executive disputed apologizing for players’ “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture before Sunday’s game.
Before the team’s 52–0 blowout against the Oakland Raiders over the weekend, five Rams players ran onto the field making the gesture in solidarity with Michael Brown, who was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in nearby Ferguson, Mo. earlier this year. Local police took immediate and serious issue with the gesture, saying that the players “ignored mountains of evidence” that showed Wilson shouldn’t be indicted and asking that the players be disciplined.
On Monday, St. Louis County Police announced that the team’s vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff contacted police chief Jon Belmar and apologized for the players’ actions, which Demoff and the team denied. According to the team, Demoff had “positive discussions” with local law enforcement following Sunday’s incident and “regretted any offense the officers may have taken,” but did not specifically apologize.
But expressing regret is definitively an apology, the police department fired back. In a tweet, the SLCPD used Demoff’s own words to illustrate that the team did, in fact, apologize:
Apology: "expression of regret for not being able to do something"@kdemoff: "I regretted any offense their officers may have taken."
— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) December 2, 2014
In a corresponding Facebook post, the department explained that it believes that team did apologize, despite their denial, and intends to inform the entire force of the news.
Local police aren’t the only ones upset with the players’ actions: The owners of Time Out Bar & Grill in St. Louis announced that the establishment will boycott the team’s games as a result of Sunday’s incident. They explained that they are not taking sides in the Ferguson case, and fully support free speech and peaceful demonstrations, but that they disagree with the players’ “bringing the protest to a nationwide professional sporting event.” From now on, the bar will broadcast and root for the in-state Kansas City Chiefs.
One of the players who took part in the gesture, wide receiver Tavon Austin, said the group decided to do so shortly before the game to show support for the Ferguson protesters because “there are things out there bigger than football.”