ST. LOUIS, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The National Football League has said that it will not punish the St. Louis Rams players who took the field Sunday in the "hands up, don't shoot" pose adopted by Ferguson protestors.
"As far as the choice that the players made, no, they were exercising their right to free speech," added Rams coach Jeff Fisher. "They will not be disciplined by the club nor will they be disciplined by the National Football League as it was released today."
The St. Louis Police Officers Association condemned Sunday's pre-game gesture and called on the NFL to discipline the five players involved -- Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt. They also asked for a public apology from the Rams.
The controversy continued Monday, when St. Louis police officers and Rams officials differed publicly about whether Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff had apologized.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar emailed police officers Monday saying that Demoff had apologized in conversations about the incident.
"I received a very nice call this morning from Mr. Kevin Demoff of the St. Louis Rams who wanted to take the opportunity to apologize to our department on behalf of the Rams for the 'Hands Up' gesture that some players took the field with yesterday," Belmar wrote.
But Demoff disputed Belmar's account on Monday night, telling ESPN:
At no time in any of the conversations did I apologize for the actions of our players. [The Rams] do believe it is possible to support both our players' First Amendment rights and the efforts of local law enforcement to make this a better community.
Police officials wrote late Monday night on Facebook that "the Chief believed it to be an apology." The department also added a definition for "apology" on Twitter:
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