Thursday, December 4, 2014

Hands Down, Rams & US Reps - Dead Wrong

Hands Down, Rams & US Reps – Dead Wrong
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
December 4, 2014

Hands down, five St. Louis Rams football players and four members of the United States House of Representatives are dead wrong for their “hands up – don’t shoot” gesture of support of the protesters, miscreants, thugs, and criminals who took the law into their owns hands following a disappointing grand jury decision.

It was bad enough to see people flouting the law in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, MO – pillaging, plundering, looting, committing arson, overturning police cars – all in the supposed name of justice, but the Rams players and the Congressmen simply added insult to injury. Insulting to the men and women in the law enforcement community against whom the illicit behavior was directed.

Let’s remember, Michael Brown, Jr. robbed a convenience store and struck the store clerk before fleeing the scene. Had Brown not committed those crimes, he might still be alive today. Had Brown not resisted arrest, he might still be alive today. Had Brown not lurched toward Officer Darren Wilson, Brown might still be alive today. It was Brown who chose wrong in each case, start to finish and the grand jury – a composite of black and white panelists – that determined Wilson did his job without an excessive use of force in defending himself as well.

From this came the now ubiquitous “hands up – don’t shoot” mantra, which is illogical as Brown did not raise his hands in surrender. Those who peacefully protested were well within their rights. Those who behaved in an illegal manner as opportunists should be sought out, arrested, and charged with all due severity. The video footage from stores should be used to identify, capture, and charge the guilty. Restitution must be made, but government should not foot the bill for the rebuilding of the community destroyed by those who live within it.

One videotape showed a criminal stealing rolls of what appeared to be instant, scratch off lottery tickets. Those tickets can be identified by number. First all those tickets should be invalidated, and anyone attempting to cash them in should be arrested and charged to the fullest extent of the law.

As for the Rams football players, tight end Jared Cook, and wide receivers Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Kenny Britt, and Chris Givens should have been punished by both the team and the National Football League for entering the field prior to the Sunday, November 30 game versus the Oakland Raiders with their hands up. Neither organization plans to discipline the players. This is wrong. For a league that penalizes a player for what it considers excessive celebration, wearing the wrong attire, the use of a cell phone, and the exuberant chastisement of officials, the NFL certainly is within its purview to excoriate the five Rams for a poor representation of members of the league and likewise the team for the same reason.

What these players did, and they are role models whether they want to be or not, is demonstrate their fervent support of the lawbreakers and stick thumbs in the eyes of law enforcement. By doing so, the message the players send to their fans is that it is okay to break the law if they think the cause is just – even when it is not. That it is okay to express disappointment when things don’t go their way by committing crimes.

Britt had the name of Michael Brown written on his arm during the game. When asked about it, Britt said he wasn’t taking sides, but instead supporting Ferguson. Instead, he demonstrated the exact opposite.

Four members of the United States House of Representatives added their own fuel to the fire by bringing this same nonsense to the House floor. Democrats all, Yvette Clarke (NY), Al Green (TX), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), and Hakeem Jeffries (NY), disgraced the historical tenor of the institution with their antics, strode to the well of the House floor with hands up then repeated the “hands up – don’t shoot” mantra, to once again perpetuate the falseness of what Michael Brown, Jr. represents. This is the antithesis of support for the people of Ferguson, and, once again, demonstrates support for law breaking by those entrusted with making the laws of this land.

For the Rams players and the members of Congress who support incendiary behavior, they are doing their professions a disservice as well as those they represent. Col. Allen West (R-FL) a former member of the House said the evidence demonstrates it was not “hands up – don’t shoot,” from Michael Brown and that his former colleagues are merely politicizing the issue.

Proving West correct, Green announced he will raise a flag above the Capitol Building in honor of the five Rams players.

These players should be fined the equivalent of four games’ salary to be donated to help rebuild the looted and destroyed businesses of Ferguson and then physically help rebuild during the off-season. That is how they can show their support for Ferguson. In fact, any player could contribute a game’s salary to the effort to demonstrate support for rebuilding Ferguson – it won’t affect the players’ bottom line too much.

The Congressmen should, at the very least, be censured. They too can kick in to the effort by holding a fundraiser in their district with all proceeds going to the rebuilding effort, matched by the members themselves.

Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson said “Brown died because of Brown.”

Even famed liberal attorney Alan Dershowitz said there are no grounds for civil rights action to be taken against Wilson.

Ironically, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, never at a loss to be outspoken, but also claiming he never wanted to be a role model, made perhaps two of the strongest statements regarding Ferguson and its aftermath.

“Those [people] who are looting, those aren’t real black people, those are scumbags. Real black people, they’re not out there looting… There’s a perception amongst some black people that if you’re not a thug or a hood rat, you don’t wear your pants down by your ass you’re not black enough. And they’re always holding us back, plain and simple.

If it wasn’t for the cops, we’d be living in the wild wild west in our neighborhoods. We can’t pick out certain incidents that don’t go our way and act like the cops are all bad. I hate when we do that. Think about it. Do you know how bad some of these neighborhoods would be if it wasn’t for the cops?

For those St. Louis Rams fans objecting to the behavior of the five players, contact the Rams at 314-982-7267. Let them know, politely, that you take issue with the inappropriateness of the five players’ behavior. If you are a season ticket holder, consider cancelling your tickets – hit them where it seems to count – the wallet. Football fan or not, anyone should feel free to contact the Rams regarding the inappropriateness of the players’ behavior. The NFL already has a big enough black eye for ignoring bad behavior. Remaining silent when players disrespect law enforcement and support lawlessness continues to sink the reputation of the league.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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