Things not to do if you are a black member of the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League: Express solidarity with protests over the shooting of Michael Brown by coming onto the field before a game with your hands in the air. Doing so will upset the police in St. Louis and “other people” who consider your actions worthy of a threats to your life:

[Jared] Cook [designated spokesperson for the five Rams players – Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt – who displayed the “Hands up” gesture as they took the field immediately before their game last Sunday]said he’s “absolutely” received threats.

“It’s all on the computer,” Cook said. “How can you really tell if somebody’s typing keys?”

Jared Cook’s wife, Lana Cook, showed a little more emotion about the threats her husband and his teammates have received, in this message she sent via her Twitter account:

Unfortunately, I have no trouble believing why the actions of five young black men who just happen to play professional football led to so much ‘negativity,” for I have seen it everyday in my interactions with otherwise normal, helpful and generous people. For many of them (and it goes without saying they are all white), Michael Brown was a thug who got what he deserved and Darren Wilson was just doing his job when he chased after and emptied the magazine to his semiautomatic pistol into Michael Brown. The fact that other African American men (and boys) have been gunned down by the police, or in the case of Eric Garner choked to death by the NYPD for the crime of selling loosely wrapped cigarettes, cuts no ice with these people. They have completely bought into the idea that the police are the victims, not the unarmed young men who were killed.

Mention any facts that do not support that narrative, and they refuse to accept them. In their minds, the black communities who have risen up to protest these deaths are not only wrong, they are composed of criminals, thugs, drug dealers and welfare queens. Nothing I or anyone else can say about the grievances African Americans have expressed regarding the unfair legal process by which these killer cops (and yes, make no mistake they were killers, for not even they deny what they did) were allowed to escape indictment for their use of fatal force against unarmed black males, will change the minds of so many white people I know.

At least Jared Cook and his family can take some comfort in the fact that members of the Ethical Society of Police, a black police organization in St. Louis, which had this to say about the massive condemnation of the five Rams players:

“We think that their actions were commendable and that they should not be ridiculed, disciplined or punished for taking a stand on this very important issue which is of great concern around the world and especially in the community where these players work,” Ethical Society of Police General Counsel Gloria J. McCollum announced on Facebook.

“The statement of the St. Louis Police Officers Association do not reflect the opinions of the majority of African American police officers in the department because there are no African American officers on their governing board and they have a minimal amount of African American members,” Ethical Society of Police noted.

Not that I expect the majority opinion among white Americans to be affected much by what Black police officers have to say, but its telling they felt the need to support Jared Cook and the other four players against attacks by the predominately white St. Louis Police Officers Association (SPOA). The SPOA spokesperson who has been adamant that the Rams players be punished by their team and by the NFL, Jeff Roorda, was on MSNBC last night discussing the Eric Garner case, and making the claim that Garner’s death was all his fault for failure to follow police orders, despite the video showing Garner not fighting back as he was assaulted by up to five NYPD policemen, one of whom had him in a banned choke hold that caused his death.

I can only say to that that Mr. Roorda may have a white face, but his heart is most definitely as dark as the Devil. As for Mr. Cook, he choked up when told of the support by African American police officers, belying his otherwise calm demeanor while being interviewed about this “controversy.”

[Jared Cook] teared up when told a group representing St. Louis black police officers had endorsed the “Hands Up” gesture, saying “that’s pretty amazing.”

I doubt that will alleviate the pain and fear the death threats he and his family, and the families of the other four men, received, however. He’s just another “thug” to too many Americans, albeit one who plays a game for the amusement of millions of them. And that isn’t amazing, at all. Sadly, it is all too predictable.

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